At a press conference on the eve of International Yoga Day, members of the Sambhavna Trust Clinic threw light on the special role of Yoga in the treatment of gas disaster survivors. They went on to claim that a number of government run yoga centres, run by the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief & Rehabilitation Department and built especially to help survivors, are not fulfilling their purpose of providing yoga therapy to them.
They stated that over 10, 000 persons have received free Yoga treatment for gas exposure related ailments in their charitable clinic: “There is enough medical evidence and specialist opinion for inclusion of Yoga in the hospitals but Yoga therapy continues to be denied in these hospitals. The members pointed out that the pathetic condition of the 7 Yoga Centres built for survivors of the disaster in is a glaring example of official neglect of Yoga.”
“The buildings of the Yoga centres are currently being used for holding wedding parties and for housing health care centres, a college and offices of the municipal corporation. Five out of the seven Yoga centres have never been used for Yoga instructions. In the two centres where Yoga is being taught by officials of RSS affiliated Seva Bharati and Patanjali Yogpeeth, there are hardly any gas disaster survivors among the beneficiaries.”
Dr Shweta Chaturvedi, Yoga therapist at the Sambhavna Trust Clinic, said that Yoga therapy is very effective for common gas exposure related complaints such as breathing difficulty, joint pains, insomnia and menstrual irregularities. She said that, in the two manuals prepared by experts for treatment of gas exposed people in Bhopal, much emphasis have been placed on including Yoga in medical care.
Ayurveda Physician at the Clinic Dr Mrityunjay Mali said that the government hospitals have been mainly providing symptomatic treatment to the Bhopal disaster survivors for the last 34 years. Consequently too many survivors have been prescribed painkillers, steroids and psychotropic drugs. According to official records 1145 survivors have been identified with fatal kidney diseases so far and it is possible this could be linked to the over-prescription of potentially harmful medicines. Inclusion of Yoga in the treatment of Bhopal survivors could serve to reduce their consumption of potentially harmful medicines.
While a number of state hospitals have claimed that yoga therapy hasn’t helped the gas victims, Kamla Nehru Hospital, the nodal hospital that controls all the gas relief hospitals, admits that yoga has helped gas victims.
According to a Right to Information (RTI) response from Kamla Nehru Hospital, 559 patients or 73% of the patients visiting various gas relief hospitals in the year 2007 benefited from yoga and, in 2008, the number increased to 946. In another response, the hospital provided details of ailments that were relieved through yoga stating that the treatment helped patients suffering from various conditions including body ache, joint pain, thyroid problems, and high blood pressure.