In one of the worst industrial disasters in modern history, thousands of people in Bhopal were killed by a leak from a chemical plant in December 1984. Thirty-two years on, the effects of the deadly fog that enveloped the city for many years, has left thousands more people with fatal lung diseases. Others still live with the fallout today.
Hindustan Times found out one such person on Friday. Raisa Bi, a 50-year-old impoverished woman, who has spent more than Rs 2 lakh since 2012, is still looking for proper treatment.
Though the state government demarcated six hospitals to treat victims, Raisa Bai, who lost her husband, Abdullah in the gas tragedy, has been visiting from one hospital to another since then.
She worked at a stitching centre to earn a living for her two sons, one of whom is bed-ridden since the tragedy and the other son, who can barely walk properly.
In 2012, Raisa Bi suffered from acute pain in her lower abdomen. After failing to get relief at the Indira Gandhi women’s hospital, she started visiting the Sultania hospital for more than two years, when her problem could not be diagnosed or treated, she started treatment at the Mayo hospital.
Two year later, she was told that her uterus was ruptured and dislocated. She cannot sit down for the fear of catching infections. After months of treatment to control her diabetes, she was asked get her uterus operated.
She says authorities at the Mayo hospital threw her out following a minor tiff and refused operate on her.
“My daughter-in-law had a minor tiff with the hospital staff after she dropped some food on the hospital floor. The staff misbehaved with us, humiliated us and threw us out…,’” she says.
After leaving Mayo hospital, she started treatment at the JK hospital in 2015, where she was told to keep visiting and revisiting the hospital until she gets relief.
Thirty-two years on, Raisa Bai has once again started visiting Sultania hospital as she has no money left for treatment at a private hospital.
Doctors say Raisa Bai is suffering from “uterine prolapsed”–a condition which occurs when the uterus sags or slips from its normal position and into the vagina, or birth canal– which makes life miserable for a woman even though it is not life threatening.
Rajiv Saxena, chief medical officer (gas relief), says, “It’s not that patients are not treated but the problem is that there are more than 2,000 patients to treat every day and there is a severe crunch of doctors.”
Doctors on contract switch jobs frequently, upsetting schedules of the hospitals. Sometimes patients feel neglected but a single doctor cannot give more than 10 minutes to a patient in such a huge crowd.”