Kang Mai, a village situated about 20 km from the city in block Bhunga of the district faces Hepatitis C scare. A health department report says that at least 17 persons are infected with the Hepatitis C virus. Villagers even report a few recent deaths with this infectious disease.
Ram Parkash, a local inhabitant, claimed that his 36-year-old son Harminder Singh died of Hepatitis C about six months ago and that his widowed daughter-in-law was now suffering from it.
"My son received treatment from a private hospital in Jalandhar and then from the PGI but, he could not be saved," said Ram Parkash.
He said there had been at least three more Hepatitis C related deaths in the village in the last few months. Those diagnosed with the disease include a number of women.
Medically there may not be any co-relation of Hepatitis disease with contaminated water, though villagers believe so.
"We are holding a camp in the village on Monday (April 23) to create awareness among people that unsafe blood transfusion and other medical procedures, sharing of unsterlized syringes, unsafe sex and not impure water are the causes of spread of Hepatitis C virus. We'll also examine the suspected cases and if confirmed, ascertain the reasons for the disease," said Bhunga senior medical officer (SMO) Dr Avnish Sood.
He complained that certain unscrupulous persons were running unauthorised clinical shops in the area. These were doing more harm than good to the patients.
"We have informed the higher authorities about their unethical practice. However, the so-called practitioners enjoy political patronage, their business is flourishing," said Dr Sood. He said that quacks were exposing gullible people to health danger.
The SMO claimed that the village sarpanch's husband Satnam Singh, who holds a homeopathy degree, was also unlawfully treating Hepatitis C patients. Satnam Singh refuted the charge, but acknowledged that diagnostic tests were done at the laboratory running adjacent to his residence-cum-clinic.
When HT spoke to some of the suspected patients, two of them confirmed, on condition of anonymity that they were getting treated at the sarpanch's house. The sarpanch and her husband insisted that unhygienic water was a big cause behind spread of Hepatitis C. This is not medically true, doctors say.
However, at their 'clinic', patients were being treated in most unhealthy environment. Satnam Singh, who is himself bed-ridden, is assisted by a number of persons including his wife in attending to the patients.
Rajya Sabha member Avinash Rai Khanna has asked the health officials to conduct a thorough survey in the area and take immediate measures to prevent the virus from spreading further. "This is a serious problem which deserve immediate attention,"he said. He added he would work to ensure that there is no spread of the disease.