Hospital For Gas-hit Refuses Free Dialysis To Victim
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22 June 2010
By Suchandana Gupta
Aqueel Ahmed (29), a gas victim and resident of Govindpura, has damaged kidneys and requires dialysis thrice a week. He claimed the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC), which is supposed to provide medical treatment free of cost to gas victims, has refused medication. Because, hospital rules say a patient can be given dialysis just 10 times free of cost in his or her life–time.
‘‘This hospital was built for free treatment of gas victims,’’ said Ahmad. ‘‘Yet, I received dialysis only 10 times. They told me to get my treatment done outside. I require haemoglobin injections once a week and BMHRC has not given one so far. Each injection costs me Rs 1,300. I have gone bankrupt paying Rs 8 lakh for dialysis and injections,’’ he added.
People like Aqueel Ahmad are finally seeing light at the end of a long and dark tunnel. What’s enthusing people is that the behemoth called BHMRC, which has been like a sinking ship, may finally come under the control of the Union government. ‘‘The GoM’s recommendation that the administration and management of BHMRC should be taken over by the Centre fills us with hope,’’ said Abdul Jabbar, convener of Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sangathan.
BMHRC is the largest super–speciality hospital for treatment of gas victims over a sprawling 85–acre land on the outskirts of Bhopal. It was set up on the orders of the Supreme Court on October 30, 1991, according to which an insolvent Union Carbide Corporation and Union Carbide (India) Limited (UCIL), were to sell their 13 factories. The sale fetched Rs 290 crore, of which Rs 175 crore were used to set–up this 260–bed hospital.
But BHMRC kept itself in the news for the wrong reasons. While patients said they were cold–shouldered by the hospital, many of them said the hospital authorities conducted drug trials on them without their knowledge. The hospital admitted that four departments in the hospital including gastro–surgery and cardiology had conducted such tests on 160 patients between 2005 and 2008. The drug trials were stopped in August 2008 after a similar experiment killed 49 children in New Delhi’s AIIMS.
After the verdict on the criminal case of the Union Carbide gas leak, BMHRC was in focus again because the hospital trust is headed by former chief justice AM Ahmadi. Gas victims alleged that it was Justice Ahmadi who, on September 13, 1996, had reduced the statement of all eight Indian accused in the criminal case from culpable homicide not amounting to murder, to a much more lenient death by negligence. Two years later, he became chairman of the Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust and held that position for 12 years.