K.K. Dewan, Secretary, Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust (BMHT), writes:

I am afraid that in the third paragraph of the article, “Some lessons from the Bhopal outcome” (Op-Ed, June 14), the sentences — “A huge hospital financed by Union Carbide was built in Bhopal. But it is not for the poor but the rich. It is over the bodies of the poor that the hospital building was built, and still the have-nots have no access to it” — do not accurately reflect the state of affairs of the working of the hospital, which was set up by the BMHT for the treatment of gas victim patients.

After the formation of BMHT in 1998, it set up a 350-bed super-speciality hospital, the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (“BMHRC” or the “hospital”) along with eight mini units at the various gas-affected wards in Bhopal. The hospital and the mini units were set up primarily for the diagnosis and treatment of gas victims. Those requiring specialised treatment are admitted to the hospital.

Out of the 5.75 lakh gas victims, 3.70 lakh were registered with the BMHRC.

Since inception, 40 lakh visits of gas victims have been recorded in the mini units and provided treatment. At the BMHRC, about 8 lakh OPD patient visits have been recorded. It is also informed that 54,000 patients have been admitted for specialised treatment.

Contrary to the assertions in the article, all the patients admitted and treated at the mini units gas victims and at the hospital, approximately 80 per cent of the patients admitted were gas victims.

The Chairman and Trustees of BMHT are conscious of their responsibility and are committed to provide quality treatment to the gas victims at the mini units and at the hospital. There is no question of any compromise in the admission and treatment of gas victims.

The occupancy of beds in the hospital is, on an average, 60 per cent in a year. Therefore, it would be a waste of infrastructure of the hospital, if a small number of private patients are not admitted for specialised treatment when beds are vacant. This is specially so because of the shortage of specialised medical facilities in the State of Madhya Pradesh. In fact, the Central government has also subscribed to this view and has no objection to using the spare infrastructure at the hospital for treating private patients. The revenue generated from private patients is ploughed back into the hospital for treatment of the gas victims.

In the light of foregoing, the assertions highlighted above are without any basis and are not correct.

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