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Dengue issue stings Odisha House
- Govt faces flak over unsafe blood

Bhubaneswar, Sept. 1: Members in the Odisha Assembly today expressed concern over the outbreak of dengue and diarrhoeal diseases in the state and the alleged supply of unsafe blood by government blood banks.

However, health minister Damodar Rout said there was no reason to panic because dengue and diarrhoea were under control. Only two dengue deaths and 44 diarrhoea casualties were reported this year, he said.

Moving an adjournment motion on the matter, Congress chief whip Prasad Harichandan said 63 dengue cases had been detected so far in the state and two patients had died in Dhenkanal district. Also, 2,643 persons had been affected by diarrhoea, of whom 44 died.

“Since the monsoon is on, the two diseases may spread to other areas if precautionary measures are not taken,” he said. Expressing concern over the rise in HIV cases in the state, Harichandan said the government blood banks were supplying blood without conducting the mandatory tests following the guidelines of National AIDS Control Organisation and the Union health ministry.

Official sources said 741 deaths had occurred because of AIDS during 2002-08.

Harichandan cited an instance where a child tested HIV positive after being given blood from the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation Hospital in 2009. The victim’s parents were not HIV positive. The high court had taken serious note of it and directed the government to make the AIDS and other tests mandatory. However, the government was yet to implement the high court’s directives, said the Congress leader.

He wanted to know why the state government had not introduced nucleic acid amplification test, which is in vogue in a number of states including Karnataka.

“At a time when the government is spending crores on populist measures, it is strangely reluctant to spend money on protecting the life of people,” he said.

Harichandan was supported by his party colleagues and Independent member Pratap Chandra Sarangi, who stressed on the urgent need to ensure safe blood for patients.

Refuting the Opposition’s allegation about the supply of unsafe blood, the health minister said only two cases of supply of infected blood had come to the government’s notice. Rout told the House that he had convened a meeting of all blood bank officers and instructed them to conduct an intensive test before supplying the blood and stop the ongoing practice of a rapid kit test. He, however, expressed government’s inability to conduct nucleic acid amplification test because it was extremely costly.

Blood is collected by 82 blood banks from voluntary donors and supplied to patients after processing. More than 3.07 lakh blood units were collected last year.