Women too among effected
BY RASHMI TALWAR
In what seems to be an eye –opener , mandatory blood tests of patients suffering from Cataract (Eye Problem) diagnosed in a camp organized by “Dr Om Parkash Eye Institute” in Village Narli on the Indo Pak border, led to an alarming disclosure of 22 patients found to be afflicted with Hepatitis-C while one person was found to be HIV+.
The hospital team headed by its director Dr Rohit Om Parkash , Mr Maqbool and others organized a follow up camp in this village recently, after the alarming results of Hep-C and HIV+infection were found in blood tests of these patients.
In the earlier camp, the eye specialist medical team had detected a total of 74 cases of ‘Cataract’ and when routine blood tests of these 74 patients for HIV+ and Hep-C were conducted prior to cataract surgery in the hospital at Amritsar, 22 of them were found to be afflicted with Hep-C virus while one man was found with HIV+ status.
The age group of affected patients found with Hep-C ranged from 35 to 70 years including many women. A woman aged 70 years too was found to be affected by the disease.
At the follow up camp organized in Government Senior Secondary School, Narli, the Principal of the school Mr Lakha Singh and village Sarpanch Mr Mukhtar Singh were informed of the detection of this disease that caused severe liver damage and proved fatal in cases, if left untreated.
The principal while talking to the doctors disclosed that approximately 30 to 35 percent of village population and around, especially males had taken to drugs and 20 percent of these were using injections. Being a border village, the drugs are smuggled from the neighboring country of Pakistan and are easily available in the village.
He also stated that mostly RMP (Registered medical Practitioners) were handling patients in the village and reportedly some of them were using fake medical documents and were taking little or no precautions in administering injections or using other sterilization techniques to safeguard patients as well as themselves.
The doctors explained to patients at Narli village that Hepatitis C virus is spread by blood-to-blood contact especially by sharp instruments or coming in contact with infected blood from sharing needles or other household items like nail clippers, toothbrushes, tattooing, even menstruation, saliva , and nose bleeds. Unprotected sex too caused this virus to spread. In the early stages of infection patients may show signs of fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle aches or fever, later yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice) are manifested as its symbols. The Principal of the school also revealed to the visiting doctors that a shrine “Sidh Baba Bodh Nath” widely believed to have divine powers in healing jaundice drew thousands of patients suffering from jaundice each Sunday in their village.
Dr Rohit urged the state authorities to take urgent notice of the fast spreading virus in this village and around to prevent it from taking epidemic proportions. “ It is a scary situation wherein we find that majority of these patients remain undetected. The risk factor thus for medical treating personnel has increased manifold and is alarming”.
Dr Rohit drew the attention of state wherein investigations for Hep –B, C and HIV prior to even minor surgery very a necessity for general well being of the public.