Health Department is yet to identify a medical college to take up the study

Efforts to secure a conclusive evidence on the link between the deformities and the fatalities in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada and the dumping of endosulfan got a short in the arm with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) — a Central Government research funding body — agreeing to support the study.

ICMR wrote to the State government last month to identify a medical college that will take up the study. Minister for Health U.T. Khader admitted the government is yet to do it.

Following stepped up agitation by social activists seeking an end to children being born with deformities in areas where pesticide endosulfan was aerially sprayed, the Department of Health and Family Welfare had requested the ICMR in July to take up study to identify the correlation between endosulfan and deformities noticed at the time of birth. In October ICMR Director General and Secretary of Health Research V.M. Katoch, who was here to attend a function, had expressed the inability of ICMR to take up the study directly but expressed its readiness to fund the study.

He had asked medical colleges in the State to come forward and take up biomedical research on the effects of endosulfan.

Mr. Khader told presspersons on Saturday that the government is yet to select the medical institute that will take up the study. “ICMR has agreed to fund the study,” he said. An official from the Health Department said two reminders have been sent by the ICMR to the State government in this regard. “Minister is yet to identify the institute that will take up the study,” the official said.

Regardless of findings of the study, Mr. Khader said the State government was working out a better package for people left bedridden and suffered deformities because of alleged spraying of endosulfan. This includes free treatment for people with serious aliments in select hospitals in the State. The government was strengthening the day care centres and will also launch mobile health vans for treating endosulfan victims. Mr. Khader said the Cabinet recently cleared the Rajiv Arogya Shree Yojana meant to meet 90 per cent of treatment cost of the above poverty line (APL) cardholders. With this, he said, the State government has realised the promise made in the manifesto of providing universal health coverage in the State. The below poverty line (BPL) cardholders are being provided free treatment under the Vajpayee Arogya Shree Yojana, Mr. Khader said.

The Minister said his Department of Health and Family Planning had taken action on all the 20 schemes announced by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in the budget.

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