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7 HP patients lose vision after March 2014 free eye camp, Govt orders probe

The Temple trust based in Himachal Pradeshhas been conducting free eye camps every year .

Written by Ashwani Sharma | Shimla |
December 20, 2014 7:52:40 pm
Some of the affected people in Amritsar. (Source: Express photo) Some of the affected people in Amritsar. (Source: Express photo)

Close to the heels of Amritsar blindness case, a another free-eye camp organised by a NGO associated with a famous temple trust in  nine months back, has left seven patients – most of them senior citizens, losing their vision.

The Temple trust is based at Kandwal in Nurpur tehsil of Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh and has been conducting free eye camps every year .

Apart from seven patients, who hailed from nearby villages in Kangra and Chamba districts, there were two other patients from Punjab, who have lost their eye sights after the cataract surgeries in the camp, held at clinic of Dr Nitin Salaria .

The operations were held between March 22 to 29, 2014 at Pathankot in Punjab and cost of all the cataract operations was borne by Nagni Mata Prabandhak Committee, Kandwal –a small town bordering Punjab.

Himachal’s additional Chief Secretary (Health) Vineet Chawdhry confirmed the blinding case of seven patients, out of total nine from HImachal Pradesh. The incident has come to light only after Amritsar incident.

“A complaint was received only two days back and an inquiry has already been instituted by Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Kangra .Yesterday Dr S K Sharma,an eye surgeon ,has recorded statements of all the victims at Nurpur,apart from the organisers and Dr Salaria at Pathankot.No surgery was held at Nurpur. Only screening of patients was done at Kandwal “, Vineet Chawdhry told the Indian Express.

Compliant received at Chief Minister’s office through an email on December 18 reads “around 30 poor patients, in all, have lost their eye sights completely. The committee, which had obtained NOC from the CMO, had no permission to undertake surgeries at Pathankot.
Initially a complaint was also lodged with the CMO on March 9,2014, but he has not taken any action. No FIR has been lodged so far”.
Some of the patients who have lost their vision include Kailsho Devi, Roshan Lal,Dharampal,Budhi Singh and Bramo Devi.

Approach over phone Kailasho’s daughter Radha Rani informed that they have reported severe pain in the eye and itching to Dr Salaria on very next after the surgery. He examined the patient but told to report to the committee. Thereafter ,some patients alongwith Kailasho were taken to Jalandhar. But nothing changed in next three months. The private doctors later consulted at Pathankot and elsewhere informed that vision can’t be resorted.

Another patient Roshan’s wife Kanta Devi has same story to narrate and complaint that the committee did not care much after the operations had gone wrong. “ He (Roshan) has lost his eye sight after the surgery. We are ruined as had to spent thousands on his treatment later”.Bramho Devi, 60 of village Chakkar in Punjab, has also turned blind instead of getting her vision improved after the contract surgery in the camp.

Hari Singh, president of the committee admits that out of 300 total operations done in March 2014 camp, eight to 10 patients have come back with reports of losing their vision. “ This was first time in the 20 year’s history of free medical camps such a problem has been reported. We took the patients to best eye surgeons at Jalandhar and hired services of a known doctor from Dehradun for treatments. Dr Nitin has informed the inquiry officer Dr S K Sharma about some medicine being cause of an infection which resulted in the problem”.

Kangra CMO B M Gupta said “ the report of the inquiry officer is expected in one or two days time. He has also taken samples of the medicine used and recorded statements of all the patients,and doctor. If something wrong has been done ,the government will take action”.

What government said today

No eye operation was conducted at Nurpur. Only eye screening was done in the complex of Nagni Mata Prabandhak Committee, Baranda,Kandwal, tehsil Nurpur,(Kangra) by a private doctor Dr. Nitin Salaria where after the patients were shifted to the Salaria Eye Hospital, Pathankot, Punjab for their eye operations at the level of the Committee at its own. The health department had no involvement in eye operations conducted at Salaria Eye Hospital, Pathankot. The state government has not recoganised any such eye operations camps during the period in the State.

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