Bihar’s organ and tissue transplant body alleges state govt’s neglect towards its functioning

Updated on Aug 17, 2021 05:34 PM IST

The SOTTO is responsible for coordination in procurement and distribution of organs and tissues in Bihar.

File photo: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. (HT photo)
File photo: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. (HT photo)

Bihar’s State Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (SOTTO), responsible for coordination in procurement and distribution of organs and tissues and their registry at state level, says it has become a victim of government neglect.

Established in 2016 by the directorate general of health services (DGHS) and ministry of health and family welfare (MoH&FW), Bihar’s SOTTO has not received the Centre’s nod this year for revalidation of funds. As a result, it is unable to spend funds despite having around 34 lakh remaining in its kitty, HT has learnt. Experts at SOTTO say this has hampered the organisation’s activities.

“We have raised the issue with the health ministry on delay in revalidation of funds for SOTTO. The ministry convened two meetings, one in July when it said the issue will be resolved in 15-20 days. Another meeting was held last week wherein we have been communicated that we will get the nod for utilisation of unspent funds in 10 days,” said SOTTO-Bihar chairman Dr Manish Mandal, who is also the medical superintendent of the IGIMS.

So far, the SOTTO has collected only 250 pledges for organ donation in Bihar. This speaks volumes of its information education and counselling activities.

Its registry of organ donation and transplant is primarily confined to the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) in Patna, where its office is located. Barring the IGIMS, an autonomous institute under the state government, and the Paras-HMRI hospital in the private sector, the three other facilities in Bihar, registered for organ transplant under SOTTO do not share their data regularly.

The organisation’s efforts to prod the state health department into persuading the facilities eligible for transplant to enrol under SOTTO and share their data on transplants have also gone in vain.

According to SOTTO officials, they have not been paid for the last four months. The joint director’s post, which is among the four positions sanctioned, is vacant after the previous incumbent resigned on March 31, 2020, allegedly due to unattractive remuneration.

Against this backdrop, the SOTTO, together with its national and regional units — the NOTTO and the ROTTO — is expected to contribute to generating 75,000 pledges for organ donation across the country this year.

The Centre had initially released 116 lakh under its National Organ and Transplant Programme for SOTTO Bihar in 2019.

The funds reached in December and the SOTTO could spend only a fraction, about 3 lakh as staff salary, before the funds lapsed on March 31, 2020.

The SOTTO spent another 79 lakh against infrastructure development and salary after revalidation of funds for 2020-21. Almost five months into the next fiscal, it now awaits the Centre’s nod for funds.

Efforts to reach Dr Anil Kumar, additional deputy director-general, DGHS, proved futile, as he did not respond to calls and text messages on his cellphone. Hindustan Times also sent him an e-mail on Tuesday and was awaiting his response.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Ruchir writes on health, aviation, power and myriad other issues. An ex-TOI, he has worked both on Desk and in reporting. He over 25 years of broadcast and print journalism experience in Assam, Jharkhand & Bihar.

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