35 years after the Bhopal gas tragedy, the scars are deep

BHOPAL: 35 years later, more than five lakh victims still depend on free medical care mainly from Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Center (). Your dependents have the right to the same.

BMHRC is under the direction of the health research department (DHR) of the union government. If updates on the hospital website are an indication of progress, the last annual report available on the official website is 2013-14. The report says: a biopsychosocial healing model is the call of the day and, therefore, the focus is on establishing rehabilitation programs to improve the quality of life of patients. Despite an annual budget of around Rs 140 crore, 60% of which goes to the disbursement of wages: the hospital is sick. Services in critical clinical departments such as oncology, neurology, nephrology, gastromedicine and gastro-surgery have been affected by lack of specialists. The closure of the BMHRC oncology department in August 2017, after its sole onco-surgeon resigned.

“The neglect of the Bhopal survivors' health condition is evident in the way the BMHRC is run by the central government,” said Nawab Khan, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, an organization fighting for the rights of the gas- hit.

A sub-committee formed in 2016 comprising of BMHRC, AIIMS Bhopal, MoHFW and DHR officials is expected to submit it report to the government soon.

During the last years, the departments of nephrology and surgical oncology are closed and there are no specialists in neurology, pulmonary medicine, surgical gastroenterology and gastro medicine, said Nawab Khan.

On the eve of the 35th anniversary of the Union Carbide disaster, leaders of four survivor organizations condemned the continued apathy of governments towards the medical, economic and social rehabilitation of survivors.

“The long and painful sickness and recent death of Abdul Jabbar, leader of a survivors' organization, exemplifies what almost every patient visiting the state and central run hospitals goes through,” said Rashida Bee, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh . Studies reveal that 72.3% of gas victims have mental disorders. Most were women under the age of 45. More than 80% gas victims suffered from depression and anxiety neurosis of some kind.