ORISSA UNDER THE GRIP OF AIDS: DMET TRIES TO FOIL THE HIGH COURT ORDERS

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

“Donation of blood is a noble work. In order to achieve this avowed objective all necessary safeguards must be taken while collecting, testing, storing and supplying blood. Otherwise, instead of saving the life, the contaminated blood would take the life. It is not disputed that during window period, unless the special test known as Antigen Test is conducted through Polymer Chain Reaction (PCR) method, the virus cannot be identified. Therefore, the Government must ensure that in all Blood Banks the Polymer Chain Reaction (PCR) method is available to identify the virus of HIV during window period”.

Thus said the High Court of Orissa a year ago on 28 July 2011 in W.P. (C) No.133441 of 2009 while asking the State Government to pay the writ petitioner Rs.3 lakhs as cash compensation against deficient screening of blood without using the NAT PCR method, as a result of which, the 17 months old child of the petitioner was infected with AIDS.

By saying, “the Government MUST ensure that in all Blood Banks the Polymer Chain Reaction (PCR) method is available to identify the virus of HIV during window period”, the High Court has made it an unavoidable must for the Government to use the NAT PCR screening method in all the Blood Banks in Orissa.

It is a blatant contempt of Court to delay implementation of this mandamus.

The Orissa Government, therefore, had taken up the matter in a specifically held “Meeting on Implementation of NAT PCR in Blood Banks” under Chairmanship of Dr. Pramod Meherda, IAS, MD, National Rural Health Mission and Project Director of Orissa State AIDS Control Society.

Members present in meeting were: Dr. Mangala Prasad Mohanty (Honorary Secretary of Indian Red Cross Society – Orissa State branch), Kamalakanta Dash (FA, OSACS), Dr. P. K. Acharya (Additional Project Director, OSACS), Dr. Sudhir Kumar Ghosh (Professor and HoD, Microbiology Dept, VSS Medical College, Burla), Dr. Banojini Parida (Professor and HoD, Microbiology Dept, MKCG Medical College, Berhampur), Dr. Pritilata Panda (Associate Professor, Microbiology Dept, MKCG Medical College, Berhampur), Hrushikesh Mohapatra (Drugs Controller, Orissa), Dr. Bijay Kumar Swain (Joint Director, Health Services (T.B.Cell) Orissa), Dr. Jyotsna Patnaik (D.D., STI and JD, BS), Dr. Bimocha Pragna Pati (Associate Professor, Microbiology Dept, SCB Medical College, Cuttack), Dr. L. N. Hati (Ex-Director, State Blood Transfusion Council, Orissa), Dr. Chhanda Charan Sahu (Blood Bank Officer, BCSU, Anugul), Dr. Debashish Mishra (Director, Model Blood Bank, Capital Hospital, Bhubaneswar) and Dr. Benudhar Satapathy (Director, Central Red Cross Blood Bank, Cuttack).

This special meeting for the specific purpose of implementation of the High Court orders was held in the conference hall of OSACS on 25 February 2012 after collection of various documents and medical literature. The minutes thereof records, “the matter was placed before the committee with all the supporting documents like Hon’ble High Court’s judgment, correspondence letter to NACO, Transfusion Medicines Technical Manual, Screening of donated blood for Transfusion, Recommendation of WHO on Transmissible Infection, Proceedings of Karnataka Government on NAT PCR and supply order along with purchase of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi”.

This specific meeting, actively participated by subject matter specialist noted supra, unanimously decided to implement the High Court order as that was the most unavoidable and appropriate way to save the people from the transfusion-transmissible-infections(TTIs).

Its resolution said,

“All the Committee members went through the documents and also verified the possible grey zone documents of each individual disease (TTIs) and also went through the document from the website i.e. Journal of Association of Microbiologists, USA. After thorough discussion on NAT PCR technology, the Committee unanimously recommended that the NAT PCR technology, which is the latest testing facility, need to be introduced for screening of blood units to reduce the grey zone period of transfusion- transmissible-infections like HIV-I, II, Hepatitis B and HCV, as it is the latest and foremost technology available in India”.

But, despite this recommendation, the State Government failed to appreciate the urgency of its implementation. We exposed this menacing lack of concern for human life in these pages on 8 July 2012; and then a new case, seeking redressal in TTIs, gained cognizance of the High Court. This prompted the Government to remember the February meeting.

When the February meeting had unanimously recommended for adoption of NAT PCR method for screening of blood to eliminate the possibility of TTIs like HIV-I, II, Hepatitis B and HCV, it had constituted a sub-committee under chairmanship of the Special Secretary of Health to determine the manner of its execution. That sub-committee, after lapse of long five months, met on July 24.

But surprisingly, the D.M.E.T., Orissa, though not a member of that sub-committee, attended the meeting and tried to foil the High Court order with misleading emphasis on continuance of the outdated and deficient methods of blood screening presently in vogue in Orissa.

Our sources say, the meeting ended with no decision, notwithstanding how harmful be that to health of the people.

Pranab in the “Dumping Yard” of the Ruling Gang for Their Failing Colleagues

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

With massive presence of accused and under-trial criminals, economic offenders, logrollers, compradors, and mafia in the electoral college, P. A. Sangma could not win the race for the Rastrapati Bhawan. But the epithet he created for the Rastrapati Bhawan – a dumping yard of the ruling gang for failing colleagues – would not be wiped out with inauguration of Pranab Mukherjee as President of India.

Howsoever he may try to be seen otherwise, he will continue to be recalled as a sycophant of Sonia Gandhi. The President’s chair shall continue to be seen with his launching into it as a chair available to any choice of a ruling party boss in India’s prevalent political environment wherein saboteurs of the constitution rule the roost.

The people of India, in general, are in insurmountable indigence, with assets of the nation gone into the pockets of a few, under a regime that the compradors control, ever since Pranab Mukherjee acted a pivot in throwing India into the grip of imperialism on signing GATT behind back of the Parliament. Howsoever he tries, he cannot undo this record of history and whenever, henceforth, one will look at the Rastrapati Bhawan, it would pain him to be reminded of how the earmarked august house is vulnerable to occupation by a saboteur of the country.

It will remind one that the Rastrapati Bhawan is occupied by one who has played a motivated role in ruining Indian economy in the name of reforms touted to be the best for the country; but failed to bring in good results, if any, as was promised to be brought.

Pranab’s inauguration as President is nothing but an emphatic indication to the painful reality that as a nation we are failing.

Oof! Bengali Chauvinism!

By Saswat Pattanayak

Indrajit Hazra, an Editor with Hindustan Times gloats over how the ‘moment has come for fellow Bengalis’ now that Pranab Mukherjee enters “Rashtropoti Bhobon”! And in the tradition of a classic supremacist, he feels it necessary to inflame in the readers regionalistic suspicions that are unfounded and dangerous.

In a way, it is quite predictable that Hazra would choose this path, for this narrow and myopic route seems to be the only plausible manner one can glorify this political selection for the highest post of our country with. Somehow in the figment of Hazra’s repulsive imaginations, Oriyas are upset over Mr Mukherjee’s selection essentially because he happens to be a Bengali. Again within his nauseating scheme of historical imaginings, Oriyas have a need to reclaim Netajee Subhas Chandra Bose or President V. V. Giri.

Three Stooges of Capitalism

And yet again, the Oriyas have become the losers, Hazra surmises. Such losers that, he writes, “the outbreak of celebrations in the state next door has been keeping neighbours in Orissa awake at night.”

As unpalatable as it may sound, Oriyas have certainly lost sleep over the celebrations in the state next door since decades now, just as any oppressed group experiences lack of sleep when a bunch of neighboring racists culturally subjugate it. However, this has to do only with principled opposition to Bengali racism (which continues to violate not just Orissa, but the North-Eastern regions as well) and it has nothing to do with Mr Mukherjee’s unenviable political selection.

Hazra is not naive when it comes to understanding racism. After all, he empathizes with Karan Johar’s victimization when it comes to the racist institution that bestows Academy Awards in America. But he is abominably proud of his own Bengali racism. And his declaration in glee at a “Durga-worshipping, non-Oriya, Kulin Brahmin” President of India completely fits the pattern of his abhorrently racist mentality.

Only if the essay penned down by Hazra were a satire. Alas, it is not. It is a definitive byproduct of a parochial mindset that must claim the President of India and Netaji Subhas Bose as mere Bengalis or the current Prime Minister as just a Punjabi. His joy at realizing that Mr Mukherjee as a President will not have to report to a non-Bengali boss is also a harrowing attempt at claiming “Bengali superiority”.

His contention that Oriyas are at fault for identifying Netaji Subhas’ place of birth, which according to Hazra is an inaccurate identification, for Cuttack was under Bengal Presidency those days, is a deliberate extension of a perverted mind nurtured after myths of cultural purities. It is equally illogical an extension, considering colonial subjects then – according to Hazra’s reasoning – would have to be identified with colonial masters if someone born and brought up in Orissa has to be declared hailing from Bengal. In the same vein every Indian under British rule then would have to be called a Britisher. Hazra’s venomous campaigns to malign the Oriyas has resulted in this deliberate oversight.

While Hazra makes a case for “long-pending ethnic-, religious- and gender-based biases being reversed” in this century, he misses the mark in his own racist overtones. And that is a tragedy. The bigger tragedy of course is that the Hindustan Times, long associated with history of India’s freedom struggles, decided to publish such a racist, casteist and antinational article that can only serve to antagonize one region against another within the Republic of India.

It is prudent to remember that Manmohan Singh is correctly opposed by large majority of concerned Indian citizens not because he is a Punjabi, but because of his relentless McDonaldization of India. Likewise Pranab Mukherjee is not going to be evaluated by Indian people for his birth in West Bengal, but because of his track record of being an accomplice to Mr Singh. The fact that Hazra glorifies the President’s privileges (of being a Bengali vis-a-vis the Oriyas, and of being a “Kulin Brahmin” in a country deeply wounded through upper-caste hegemonies) as matters of pride for the Bengalis speaks about the callous insensitiveness and lack of humanity on his part.

One merely hopes that the “fellow Bengalis” whom Hazra, a racist journalist has beckoned for support in his supremacist march, resent his unfortunate and un-interrogated privileges; and as much as we all enjoy free press, the Hindustan Times stands upto its historically responsible missions in acknowledging its lapse of judgment and morality for having entertained such divisive, bloodthirsty and reactionary a writer.