On September 16, the Madhya Pradesh High Court ordered the State Government to provide free cancer treatment to gas survivors with cancer at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Bhopal. The order is a result of petitions submitted by Bhopal survivor groups to the Supreme Court requesting improved medical facilities for gas survivors, as well as proper compensation for those suffering long-term injuries. A monitoring committee, setup by the Supreme Court in response to the petitions, recently submitted a report to the Madhya Pradesh High Court requesting a report on the state of facilities and treatment at the main government hospital for survivors, The Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC).
Since control of BMRHC was handed over to central government body the Indian Council of Medical Research, there have been repeated scandals surrounding the hospital, including accusations of malpractice, staff and equipment shortages, and patient deaths due to the emptying of the ICU when the hospital was converted to a Covid-19 treatment facility. This decision was later reversed so the hospital could resume regular treatments for gas survivors, but the absence of a general medicine department at the hospital meant it could not treat those suffering from coronavirus during the second was this Spring, according to reports from the monitoring committee.
In it’s most recent report to the Madhya Pradesh High Court, the monitoring committee ruled that due to a lack of adequate facilities at BMHRC, survivors suffering from any form of cancer are instead to be provided with free treatment at AIIMS Bhopal. This is a positive step towards better care for gas survivors, as we now await the full report on the state of facilities at BMHRC, as well as the hearing of the Curative Petition in the Indian Supreme Court.