In July last year, after 12 people from villages in Bangarmau area of UP’s Unnao district tested positive for HIV, Dr S P Chaudhary, then Chief Medical Superintendent (CMS) of the district hospital and now Unnao Chief Medical Officer (CMO), says he sent a letter to then CMO Dr Rajendra Prasad, alerting him about a quack who had allegedly spread the virus by using the same syringe on his ‘patients’. However, nothing came of the letter.
On February 7, the quack, Rajesh Yadav, was arrested following an FIR registered against him by the Unnao health department. A recent probe by the district administration found that at least 58 residents of these villages had tested HIV-positive, among them at least four children.
CMO Chaudhary said, “On July 17 last year, 12 persons from Bangarmau area tested positive for HIV. During counselling, they said they had been ‘treated’ by a local quack, who had injected them using the same syringe. On the basis of the information, I, being CMS of the district hospital then, wrote a letter to then CMO Dr Rajendra Prasad, informing him about the quack.”
Chaudhary said that on November 23 last year, 13 more cases of HIV were detected in the Bangarmau area. “After joining as CMO on December 29, I asked the medical department to organise camps in the area,” he says, adding that in these camps held on January 24, 25 and 27 this year, 33 new patients tested positive. “In all, 58 persons, including four children, from this area have tested positive so far. The process of examination is still on,” he said.
Unnao District Magistrate Ravi Kumar N G told The Sunday Express that he was aware of a letter sent to the former CMO, alerting him about the quack. Kumar said he has now sought a “detailed report” into the “negligence and failure” of district medical officials that had led to a rise in HIV cases. He said around 30 quacks had been identified so far in the district and action would soon be taken against them.
State Director General (Health) Dr Padmakar Singh, when contacted, said, “I cannot disclose anything on the matter. The CMO should avoid making any statement.”
Dr Rajendra Prasad, the former CMO of Unnao who is now CMO of Basti district, hung up the phone when asked about the letter.
The Indian Express had reported how, for at least a year, Rajesh Yadav allegedly went from house to house across three villages in Unnao on his cycle with the promise of “magic treatment” – an injection and teen pudiya (three packets) – for just Rs 10. Yadav administered this “treatment” to at least 50 people a day but with the same syringe, washing it with water before injecting the next patient. Locals in Bangarmau preferred his “treatment”, which they said was cheaper than what the government doctors prescribed.
All residents who tested HIV-positive have been referred to the Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) centre in Kanpur.