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Cancer figures understated

punjab Updated: Jun 21, 2012 16:31 IST
Kamaldeep Singh Brar
Kamaldeep Singh Brar
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Understated and inaccurate figures from the cancer belt have been laid before the Parliament team.

The administration said the data that the district health officials collected in a hurry to lay before the visiting agricultural committee of MPs was "mere observations", but they stood by it. Neutral cancer observers cry foul, says the officials have cheated the squad.

On Tuesday, the MPs were in two villages in the district to have first-hand knowledge of the state's agrarian crisis and its fallouts such as the outbreak of cancer over the past decade.

In a confidential meeting at a hotel here on Tuesday afternoon, Dr Ajay Sahni, chief medical officer of Bathinda, made two crucial observations (as the officials call it). The first point suggests it's not the pesticides but women's ignorance that has led to a spurt of breast cancer. The presentation includes that cancer deaths decreased after the introduction of Bt cotton.

"On June 15, in preparation for the MPs' visit, we studied 300 families of Jajjal village," said district health officer Dr HS Randhawa. "Our observations are based on data from this study and are limited to Jajjal."

The DHOs searched on the Internet, for in the medical books, they had found no writing that held pesticides responsible for any case of breast cancer. "The data from the village led us to know the number of cancer deaths had declined since the introduction of Bt cotton in the region," said Dr Randhawa. "In just one day, the CMO's office recorded 21 cancer deaths in the village in the past 10 years, and found seven living cancer patients."

"The district health authorities have misguided the team," said Master Jarnail Singh, cancer whistleblower from Jajjal. "I alone have recorded 55 deaths in the past 10 years."

"A study in the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, noted pesticide content in breast-milk samples from Jajjal," said Umendra Dutt, executive director of the Kheti Virasat Mission (KVM). "The administration has misled the team to shield pesticide makers." "Our data is just observations and our observations may not be authentic," said DHO Dr Randhawa.