Warehouses raided, sealed in Gujarat after hepatitis-B outbreak

March 1st, 2009 - 4:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Ahmedabad, March 1 (IANS) Weeks after a hepatitis-B outbreak in Gujarat’s Sabarkantha district claimed 56 lives, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) sealed 14 warehouses and seized 25 tonnes of bio-medical waste, an official said Sunday.
The raids follow a string of confirmed hepatitis-B cases in Modasa town in central Gujarat. The official death toll as on Sunday was 56 with 164 patients being treated in government hospitals in Modasa and Ahmedabad.

“The AMC has sealed one warehouse each in Memco and Bapunagar localities during the raids on Saturday. The raids will continue on Sunday also,” AMC’s Chief Medical Officer S.P. Kulkarni told IANS.

The bio-medical waste seized from the warehouses comprised syringes, multiple dose vials, IV sets, needles and medicine bottles. Over 12 warehouses have been sealed in the past few days, he added.

Warehouses are not supposed to store bio-medical waste and the clinics and hospitals are required to incinerate them at source.

“The AMC has prepared a list of 42 dealers who are suspected to have recycled bio-medical waste for years in Gujarat and neighbouring Rajasthan,” said a senior official of the state health department in Gandhinagar.

“The private hospitals and clinics either used to sell the waste or just offer them (dealers) for free. So far no dealer has been arrested. This would be possible only after investigations are complete,” the official added.

He said the governments of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have also been alerted as the medical waste trading racket seems to be an inter-state network.

Meanwhile, the state government lodged police complaints against 10 private doctors in Modasa on charges of using contaminated syringes leading to spread of the deadly virus.

Municipal bodies across the state have been instructed to start checking private clinics and hospitals to confirm that bio-medical waste is being burnt at source.

The sealing of clinics and lodging of police complaints have led to protests by doctors in Modasa town.

“Our main demand with the state government is that doctors should not be harassed unnecessarily and only those found guilty should be punished,” said Dinesh Patel, spokesman of the Sabarkantha chapter of the Indian Medical Association.

Notices have also been served on 30 doctors in Rajkot by the municipal corporation for not destroying medical waste.

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