Issue is AIDS: Health Department puts in hole the Chief Minister’s Most Benevolent Order

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

As the Government had ignored the High Court directive and blood donations were rising in numbers, so also threat of AIDS, I exposed the matter in ORISSA MATTERS on 8.7.2012. By then, one year had elapsed. We even tried to wake up the High Court to government’s negligence to its just order in our provocative article captioned ‘The issue is AIDS: Let the verdicts be not mere wordy acrobatics’ . It was published on 21.7.2012. We exposed how a coterie of officers in the health department were using tricks of subterfuge against the High Court order. It was published on 28.8.2012.

The above is quoted from my write-up captioned “AIDS imperils Orissa: Deliberate delay in reaching at remedy: Is payola the purpose?” published on 19 Feb. 2015.

I had stumbled upon a case of AIDS caused to a 3 year old boy in 2012.

He was a victim of blood transfusion on operation table.
The blood he was given was infected with HIV.

He was a native of a village of Baramba adjoining my birthplace Tigiria. His father had given me the details of how the misfortune engulfed him and had requested me to take such steps that no child should be such a victim of medial mismanagement. His sobs and tears are still alive in my heart.

I investigated into it and found that in 2011 the Orissa High Court, on awarding a cash punishment to the State to the tune of Rs.3 lakhs, had directed that the Orissa Government must immediately adopt NAT method of blood screening as the prevailing method of ELISA was not competent enough to detect HIV in its “window Period”. The Government was sleeping over it.

I exposed the malady repeatedly with updated input. It attracted attention of Sri Prasad Harichandan, then the Opposition Chief Whip, who moved an adjournment motion on the topic. On September 1, 2012, the then health Minister Dr. Damodar Raut answered the motion with an emphatic YES to the NAT method and announced to adopt the method in all Blood Banks “in phased manner”, which would start with four major Blood Banks serving the 3 Government Medical Colleges and the Capital Hospital.

I had to put the above on records on August 24, 2015 when despite the health Minister’s assurance to the Assembly on September 01, 2012, the government did not adopt the NAT method; and resultantly, there was every reason to apprehend that the government was creating at least 2 new AIDS and /or fatal TIIs everyday. The situation had become more bothering when the Chief Minister declared on August 23 that his party had donated 37,232 units through collection camps, which suggested that the same could have created 76 new AIDS/TII cases because of deficient screening. While writing this write-up, I had reasons to apprehend that the Secretary of the Health department was sabotaging the Minister’s order, which had given a clear instruction to honor the 2011 order of the High Court for immediate adoption of NAT.

So, this was on August 24, 2015.

The seriousness of the issue had thereafter struck the topmost functionaries.

This was thus that the Chief Minister expressed interest to ensure supply of NAT-screened blood to every needing patient absolutely free of cost.

Accordingly the Health Secretary put the file on May 3, 2016 for “provision of full subsidy” and the Chief Minister approved it on May 20, 2016.

But, surprisingly, the health department has stymied this most benevolent order of the Chief Minister.

The CM’s order has not yet been carried out, as a result of which the NAT systems already installed in the three Government Medical Colleges and the Capital Hospital are kept inoperative, when every day lack of NAT-screening is possibly pushing at least three unsuspecting patients into AIDS and/or other transfusion induced fatal ailments.

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