At least 23 children with Thalassemia contracted the deadly AIDS virus through blood transfusion in Gujarat last month. Although the incidence made a huge public outcry, Indian government has already put the matter into oblivion like many similar episodes in the past. In order to protest this horrific incidence and bring justice to the innocent children, Dr. Kunal Saha, PBT president and an internationally known HIV specialist, wrote to the World Bank which provides funds to the Indian National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) seeking their urgent intervention in this matter. Anna Wellenstein, Director of World Bank in India, has responded that although they share PBT’s concern that these children might have been infected with HIV “due to receiving transfusion of infected blood”, they have full trust on the investigation by NACO (see letter from World Bank below).
More shockingly, Wellenstein’s letter has admitted that the hospital in India has already “identified the infected patients“. Does this mean that the blood from the “infected patients” were given to the unfortunate children? The World Bank has not explained further. Transmission of deadly viruses like HIV and Hepatitis as a result of the use of substandard kits supplied by NACO is not new in India. PBT has already intervened in an ongoing criminal case against Monozyme India Ltd., one of the many unscrupulous manufacturers of spurious diagnostic kits. PBT has also filed a PIL to expose the pervasive corruption with the production of poor quality kits. PBT has also received complaints from victims who have lost their loved ones from AIDS after contracting HIV through tainted blood transfusion during surgery for unrelated, ordinary illness. The World Bank and Indian government must make a serious attempt to uncover this corruption that has put the lives of the ordinary people living in India at risk for contracting deadly viruses through contaminated blood transfusion (see the news below).