November 15, 2013

10 months on proposal on Hepatitis-C yet to be approved


SRINAGAR, Nov 14: Despite the concerns expressed by the health experts over the spread of hepatitis-C in Kokernag area of south Kashmir last year health authorities seem to have ignored the issue which, experts fear could take an ugly turn in the years to come.

Last year alarm bells rang in the health department after hundreds of people were tested positive for hepatitis-C. Even the concerned LMA and minister for public enterprise, Peerzada Mohammad Syed had admitted that 33 percent population of the area was infected. Following the reportage of the spread of the infection in the area the government dispatched a team of doctors from SKIMS and directorate health services to the area for screening and treatment of the people. A noted gastroenterologist of the state, Dr M S Khuru also visited the area. Khuru after a thorough study on the spread of infection in the area submitted a report to the government cautioning against ignoring the issue. On the basis of the report of Dr Khuru, director health services sent a proposal of 10 crore rupees to the government.

SKIMS authorities after their study also submitted a proposal of 25 crores to the central government for the treatment of affected and prevention of further infection.

However, official sources said that the none of the proposals sent by the director health and SKIMS has been approved so far.

“I had sent a detailed report to the government giving them the actual estimate of the things. I had mentioned everything in the report as to how the situation will take ugly turn in future if steps are not taken to prevent the further infection. I don’t think I have left anything unwritten in the report.

Despite that I held multiple meetings with the director who too seemed to be concerned about the situation in the area. I had even suggested the setting up of three centers one in Kokernag, Anantnag and Srinagar for the checkup of the infected people but I think that has not taken off yet,” Dr Khuru told Kashmir Times.

He warned that if the government does not take any measures to prevent the spread of infection at this point of time the situation in the area after 20 years will be grim. “I was supposed to wake up the government and I did that,” Khuru said.

He said that the government has approved the proposal or the further prevention of the disease without wasting even days but irony is it that a year has passed nothing suggested by the experts has taken off yet.

Director SKIMS, Dr Showkat Zargar, said that they have also forwarded a proposal to the government which has not been approved yet. “After the screening of the people of the area we had sent a proposal of 25 crores to the central government but the same has not been approved,” Dr Zargar said.

On being asked about his announcement that SKIMS will treat the infected people free of cost, he said, “Yes I had announced that but I did not know such a huge population will be tested positive.

At least 50 percent of samples collected by our team were found positive. So it was not possible for us treat all those. It needs crores of rupees which have written to the government,” Dr Zargar said.
He also seconded Dr Khuru saying the situation could get alarmed in future if measures are not taken to prevent it now.

People of the area complain that nothing has been done by the authorities except screening of the people.

“It was only after the issue was highlighted by the press some teams of doctors came to the area and screened the people. Nothing was done beyond screening in Maham and Sona Brari villages,” said a local social activist and PDP leader, Abdul Rahim. He said that the issue seems to be no issue for the government now. “I recently talked to director health services who clearly told me that the chapter has been closed by the government,” Rather said.

Rahim said that authorities seem to have also ignored the concerns expressed by the experts like Dr Khuru.


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