The Gurdaspur eye camp horror of Punjab has now visited Himachal Pradesh and contaminated medicines from the same batch are the common link.
With seven people from the Nurpur subdivision of Kangra district reporting partial blindness after cataract surgeries in March during a free eye camp at a private clinic in Pathankot, Punjab, the Himachal Pradesh government has sought laboratory test report to verify. Its state health department findings suggest that 60 patients from the two states were operated upon between March 22 and 29 and found to have complications, later.
Bacteria are found in the medicines that were from the batch used in Gurdaspur, in cases that came out recently. "The government had ordered an inquiry into the complaints in the Pathankot case," additional chief secretary (health) Vineet Chawdhary has said, adding: "We don't know what really went wrong during the surgeries. A non-government organisation (NGO) had organised the camp."
That NGO is Nagni Mata Prabandhak Committee of Baranda, Kandwal, in Nupur telsil of Kangra district, and the camp was about 75 kilometers from the district headquarters of Dharamsala. "We screened 300 people in an annual camp at Kandwal and picked 60 for the Pathankot camp," said committee head Hari Singh.
"After seven patients reached us we complaints, we took them to a private hospital in Jalandhar," Hari Singh further said. On December 8, patient Raghubir Singh Dhangupura wrote to the state health department, seeking action against the clinic; the surgeon, Dr Nitin Salaria; and the NGO, state health director Rakesh Sharma has confirmed. Complaints were also made to the Medical Council of India.
Appointed to investigate, Dr SK Sharma, eye surgeon from the zonal hospital in Dharamsala, has in his report to the health director blamed contaminated medicines. "Tests at a private hospital revealed the colonies of dangerous bacteria pseudomonas in the seven eyes," said the health director.
Meanwhile, activists of the Shiv Sena on Saturday ransacked the hospital of Dr Nitin Salaria in Pathankot. Police had to be called in. Dr Salaria, who did all the operations in March at Nagini village near Pathankot, has claimed that the Himachal Pradesh NGO had due permission from the Kangra health office, and of the 300 people examined and 60 operated upon, only two had reported complications and he had taken them to Jalandhar. "There it came out that some contaminated medicines had damaged the eyes. I also did tests on these medicines and made a report," he said. Shiv Sena leader Yog Raj Sharma denied ransacking the hospital.