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An eye doctor’s battle to save snakebite victims
Kolkata, Jul 1 (IANS):
Published on 1 Jul. 2010 11:16 PM IST
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Meet Dayal Majumdar, a 50-year-old eye specialist, who travels to remote villages in West Bengal on a mission to save people who fall unwitting victims to snakebite. About 3,000 people die of snakebites in the state every year.
Majumdar, attached to a premier medical college of the city, has been battling government apathy for over three years to fulfil his mission to raise public awareness and drive home the need for proper training of doctors about snakebites.
“I have been fighting for the last three and a half years to educate the doctors posted in rural health centres about snakebite treatment. I have knocked on every door to include snakebite treatment in the medical curriculum. But I have not been successful till now,” Majumdar told IANS.
It was Majumdar’s experience in 2007 that prompted him to launch a one-man campaign for reducing the number of snakebite deaths.
“You know, in most government hospitals, specialists have to treat emergency patients. When I was posted in Habra State General Hospital, every day I used to receive 20-25 snakebite cases. It was then that I came to know that most of my colleagues didn’t have proper training to treat a snakebite case”.
Simpson is a renowned snake expert who helped India develop the snakebite management protocol. “From then on I have vowed to fight for inclusion of a snake bite training programme in the medical curriculum and work for imparting training to the rural doctors,” he said.
Majumdar, a father of two children, has toured all the 19 districts in the state talking to villagers and rural medical practitioners about the menace.
He has also made his own tutorial video CD for training doctors. The CD is now being used for training of interns of the Calcutta National Medical College (CNMC) - where he works - and the Municipal Medical College, Ahmedabad. He also maintains two websites that include information regarding the treatment and the severity of the snakebite problem in the state.
But Majumdar rues that despite his fervent appeals to everyone who matter, no steps have been taken to include snakebite treatment in the curriculum in most medical colleges.
“I personally went to visit the state health minister but couldn’t meet him. I have, however, deposited my CD and other documents at his office,” rues Majumdar about the stark apathy of the Left Front government in the state. The only positive outcome was a government circular April last year on the issue. However, till date, there has been no follow-up action.
Majumdar has also written to the Chief Medical officers of Health (CMOH) of all the districts of West Bengal to start workshops for training doctors regarding snakebite. But the response was feeble. Only two districts - West Midnapore and North 24 Parganas - arranged such workshops.
A workshop was also organised at the Swastha Bhavan, state health department headquarters in February. “But many doctors did not turn up”.
According to Majumdar, nobody is able to measure the gravity of the situation. While malara claims about 50 people every year in West Bengal snakebites claim more than 3,000.
“Whenever I see a patient dying of snakebite just because of unawareness among people and ignorance of doctors, I feel like I have lost a dear relative,” said Majumdar, who hails from the rural pocket of Debra in West Midnapore district.

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