Predator in the Health Deptt; blood safety may face a mess

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

If mandarines in health department succeed in their design, the State may be forced to squander away monumental amount of money in a dubious deal with a particular firm in the matter of blood screening to ensure safe blood to indoor patients.To help this particular firm, the tender notification has been suitably tailored and sources say, concerned desk of the finance department has been contacted to clear the proposal, when it comes.

A noted journalist, according to a source in the health department, had sent a note to the Health Secretary informing her about this “serious issue”. He had alleged that a particular officer of the State Blood Transfusion Council (SBTC) had tried to influence him to publish a news that would help the design succeed.

What is the design?

Under Orders of the High Court of Orissa dated 28.7.2011 in case No. W.P.(C) No. 13441 of 2009, reported first in these pages on 8.7.2012 captioned “Shocking Reality: AIDS Being Aided By Government of Orissa” which prompted the then Opposition Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan to move an adjourment motion in the Orissa Assembly over the issue, the government, as the health minister had assure the House that day, has decided to equip its blood banks with NAT PCR blood screening facility.

Many times the mandarines have tried to foil the benevolent order of the High Court, but have failed as this site has always kept a vigilant eye on their activities and exposed their design in right earnest in right time.

If anything praiseworthy the Chief Minister has done, it is his strong support to equipping the blood banks/ blood collection centres with NAT PCR technology as a result of which several thousand persons in Orissa have been saved from Transfusion Transmissible Infections like HIV-I, HIV-II, Hepatitis-B and HCV.

NAT PCR technology is the world’s best available technology which has been rewarded with a Nobel in technology, which Orissa is using, creating thereby a landmark in supply of safe blood to the patients. This facility could have been activated in all the bloodbanks of Orissa if, for reasons best known to them, a section of employees and officers in the health department had not played tricks to stymie the order of the High Court. A Public Interest Litigation informed the High Court of the game officials in the health department are playing with human life by ignoring its order in the above Writ Case and the announcement of the Health Minister in the floor of the Assembly while answering the adjournment motion. The High Court in its latest order has taken the government to task over its failure to provide all the blood banks with the NAT-PCR facility.

At this stage, sure of possibility to earn the sky as profit, a secret operator has stepped in and has gained over a section of the officials in the SBTC in order to bag the business of supplying the facility to rest of the blood banks where NAT facility is not yet operative. When the present facility tests six samples at a time, the secret predator, whose machine can accommodate a single sample at a time, has influenced the bigwigs in the SBTC to convince the Government that a single sample at a time can be more reliable than bunch testing. Lest it fails to click, the predator’s agent in SBTC is cultivating reports that occasional escaping of virus is noticed in the operating NAT PCR facility. The senior journalist cited supra was shocked when a person presenting himself as the Assistant Director in SBTC approched him with such an allegation for publication with ready cash to grease his palms if he cooperates.

The concerned journalist in a letter to the Health Secretary has named the officer. “This is the first time in my journalism career that I have seen a government official pushing for a negative story about his own department. This is unethical, so I have not done the story so far. He may try to push this story in some other publications”, he has informed the Health Secretary. Responding to his information, the Health Secretary has assured him that the government would “keep a watch” on the particular officer.

Let the Secretary “keep a watch” on the officer as she likes, but unless the contemplated  EOI, which would be the stepping stone to the Tender Notice drafted to suit the predator is jettisoned in keeping in mind the greater interest of Orissa, the same predator may be the only one to bag the business of blood screening, which would force the State Exchequer to suffer a gigantic loss of money under the pretence of blood safety, eventually pushing blood safety into a mess.

Secret Agenda

Motive of the mandarines in SBTC to help the predator is descernible in the obliteration of the Committee formed on 22 May 2023 to formulate the tender call notice. The same Committee was constituted with Debadatta Bhattacharya (Scientist,ICMR),Dr. Sandeep Mishra (Scientist, Institute of Life Sciences),Dr. Smita Mohapatra and Dr. Dharitri Mohapatra (Heads respectively of Transfusion and Microbiology Deptts, SCB Medical College),Dr. Rabindra Mishra (Head of Transfusion Deptt, MKCG Medical College), Dr. Rana Singh (Head, Transfusion Deptt of AIIMS,Bhubaneswar). When Dr. Ajit Mohanty, Spl. Secretary, Helth & Family Welfare chaired the Committee, Dr. Nilakantha Mishra, Director, Blood Safety and Ex-Officio Director of SBTC was the convener. Attempts were made to soft-pedal the design of the secret predator, many a members felt. The important aspect of technology was not in the agenda, as SBTC officials prefered the Committee to formulate its recommendation on method of testing. Many members protested against this secret agenda, as a result of which no decision on purpose of the tender could be taken. Rather most of them were in favor of calling tendering for NAT PCR technology which is successfully operating in Orissa. The SBTC officials obliterated the said Committee and created a new Committee with former DMET Dr. CBK Mohanty (retired two years ago) to formulate a tender notice that should help the predator. Dr.Debadatta Bhattacharya (Scientist,ICMR),Dr. Sandeep Mishra (Scientist, Institute of Life Sciences), Dr. Dharitri Mohapatra (Heads of Microbiology Deptts, SCB Medical College) were deliberately kept out of the Committee. Sensing the SBTC design to help a predator in the guise of tender, the expert from the AIIMS, Bhubaneswar didn’t attend the Committee. And, such a handpicked body has recommended such components to be put in the tender call notice, which would help the predator in grabbing the order.

Knowing that the unilateral choice of the predator will eventually question the prudence involved, the SBTC officials, as noted supra, are trying to discredit the NAT-PCR operating in Orissa,with sponsored news, despite the fact that the State has accepted the best of technology which is epochmaking with the Nobel prize. If the mandarines in SBTC succeed, blood safety in Orissa may face a mess.

The sooner the Government intervenes to obstruct the wrong, the better.

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