22 February 2009
Authorities in western India have arrested eight doctors after a hepatitis B outbreak killed at least 36 people, officials said.
At least 100 others in the Modasa district of Gujarat state have been infected with the virus in the past two weeks and are undergoing treatment, state Health Minister Jaynarayan Vyas said.
The doctors have been charged with medical malpractice for using the same syringe on multiple patients, negligence and improper disposal of medical waste, regional deputy superintendent of police K.K. Mysorewala said late Saturday.
If convicted, they could face between two years and life in prison.
Hepatitis B is a liver disease that can lead to liver damage and cancer.
It is spread through infected blood, semen and from using contaminated needles. It can be prevented through vaccination.
Vyas said a mass immunization drive has been started in Modasa following the outbreak.
Health care in India is often dismal, especially in small towns and villages. Public hospitals and clinics are frequently filthy, overcrowded and poorly equipped.