Health Holocaust

Dr Neil Anderson

Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind

Union Carbide's Second Poisoning of Bhopal

"Officially MIC is classified as about twice as lethal as cyanide...[beyond the eyes and lungs]...the liver is fairly badly affected, the spleen is very badly affected...and finally the kidney seems to be severely affect... and something that doesn't get better over time, it seems to get worse."

On the twentieth anniversary of the Sambhavna Clinic, on September 2nd, 2016, a preliminary report from a ground-breaking study revealed that cancer incidence, in people exposed to the methyl isocynate (MIC) gas leak of 1984, is ten times greater than in the unexposed population.
Pictured, Kaneeza Bee, Bhopal survivor and activist who died of stomach cancer on 28th January, 2016.

In the absence of medical information, there are no treatment protocols available which are specific to exposure-induced, multi-systemic problems. Of the two official publications resembling treatment protocols, one covers little except the management of respiratory problems, and the vast majority of the medical community in Bhopal is not even aware of its existence. As a result, drugs for temporary symptomatic relief have been the mainstay of medical care ever since the morning of the disaster.

In a sample of 865 women who lived within a kilometre of the plant and who were pregnant at the time of the gas leak, 43 percent of the pregnancies did not result in live births. Of the 486 live births, 14 percent of babies died in the first 30 days compared to a death rate of 2.6 to 3 percent for previous deliveries in the two years preceding the accident in the same group of women.

Following the disaster on December 2nd 1984, the Indian Council of Medical Research [ICMR] – a government agency – concluded, on the basis of mortality figures, that over 520,000 exposed persons had poisons circulating in their bloodstream causing different degrees of damage to almost all the systems in the body.

Given the official neglect towards monitoring and care of gynaecological complications caused by the disaster, special attention is given to this area at the Sambhavna Clinic. While officials continue to deny any exposure-related gynaecological health consequences, data collected at Sambhavna shows that of 190 females, aged between 13 and 19, who came to the clinic between 1st June 1999 and 31st March 2000, 113 reported menstrual problems, including painful and irregular menses, heavy bleeding and excessive vaginal secretions.

We believe Dow must finally accept responsibility for Bhopal. Until then, The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds two award-winning clinics in the city. Both offer free, first-class care to victims of the gas disaster or the ongoing water contamination. The survivors have nowhere else left to turn – please help if you can.