Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Scam in Orissa’s health sector is not new. A new scam is now on the anvil. Sources indicate that health minister Naba Kishore Das is forcing the department to facilitate the scam, as the 3rd floor is preferring a particular company to win the tender that may help the company bag hundreds of crores of rupees in its trade over the most essential necessity of life – Blood, notwithstanding how it affects the exchequer.
In deciding the grievance of a three year old boy affected with AIDS months after receiving blood from a Red Cross Blood Bank, the High Court of Orissa, in a well researched landmark judgment, delivered on 28 July 2011 in W.P.(C) No.13441 of 2009 , had asked the State Government to ensure safe blood to patients by screening the blood through NAT PCR that detects the fatal viruses like HIV in its “window period”, which the method, in vogue till then, was quite deficient to detect.
Habitually nonchalant administration had not only slept over the order, but also trying to sabotage the same, when I had to expose the nasty tricks in a report captioned – AIDS: A Coterie of Officers use Tricks of Subterfuge against the High Court Order.
One of the best ever faces in legislative arena of Orissa, former minister Prasad Harichandan had moved an adjournment motion over the State’s negligence to this just cause and finally when the Government had agreed to implement the Court Order, its well considered, prudential choice was the world’s most efficient manufacturer/provider of NAT Solution, the Switzerland based Roche Diagnostics.
The agreement was inked with its India Branch Roche Diagnostics India in the best possible pro-people package.
Under the Package the Roche installed all its machinery equipped with necessary manpower and auxiliary facilities – all free of cost in a room the State provided. Its charges for screening were so suitable to the State that, the CM was pleased to allow the State exchequer to bear the same on behalf of the patients.
During these five years of operation, the detection of blood infested with viruses like HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C in “window periods” has exceeded 3500 units out of 6,50,000 total units screened by end of the agreement. Out of these 3500 infested units HIV counts 370, Hepatitis B 2228 and Hepatitis C 205 cases, which, otherwise could have transmitted the dreaded viruses to unsuspecting transfusion receivers.
In view of this excellent result, keeping in mind the High Court mandate and people’s right to safe blood, Roche should have been asked to install its facilities in all the Blood banks of Orissa. But, it was not till the end of the term.
A prowler proceeds
When the five-year term is coming to end, instead of renewing the term with the objective of expanding to all the Blood Banks of Orissa, which should have been easier for Roche that has already an operational establishment in Orissa with expert installers and aftercare executives, the third floor, known to public for its notoriety, has started using the health minister to allot the assignment to a new company, which has no established operational office in Orissa and whose charges much exceeds that of Roche, as per records elsewhere.
Possible scam of many hundred crores
One smells the rat as the department of health is being nose-led to tailor its terms to suit the specification of the prowling company. Tailoring tender call notices to suit the specifications of the prowling company is a great scam anybody can guess.
Being the first sentinel of the people of Orissa to highlight the importance of the Court verdict noted supra and having exposed all bottlenecks in bringing NAT solutions to bloods under window, we will keep a watch on this scam on the anvil, in interest of our people and their exchequer.