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Compensation Demanded For Bengal's Blood Scam Victims

India's largest patients' rights body led by US-based AIDS researcher Kunal Saha has demanded compensation for the hundreds of thousands of people in West Bengal who are// feared to have received HIV contaminated blood as a result of faulty blood-test kits purchased by the state government.

The kits were supplied by Secunderabad-based company Monozyme India, which had clinched a contract in December 2004 after the West Bengal State AIDS Control and Prevention Society floated tenders. Countless people in Bengal are feared to have received HIV and Hepatitis contaminated blood.

"We demand adequate compensation for all victims of this 'kit' scandal. Unless you take immediate action for equitable justice for the victims, we will have no other option but to move the court seeking justice for this heinous crime," Saha told IANS over phone from Ohio Sunday.

His organisation People for Better Treatment (PBT) has shot off a letter to state health minister Suryakanta Misra drawing attention to the crisis in West Bengal's healthcare as a result of transfusion of contaminated blood products due to use of 'substandard kits' from Monozyme India.

"The hapless patients are paying the ultimate price for the failure of the inept members in the health department who were responsible for monitoring the 'kits' that were approved for testing the blood samples.

"We are shocked to notice that in order to shield the unscrupulous healthcare workers and to protect Monozyme India, a rumour is being spread in the media that the 'kits' were merely out of their expiry dates.

"All blood-test kits (whether antibody- or PCR(polymerase chain reaction)-based) that are used for detection of viruses like HIV must contain a 'positive' and a 'negative' control for proper identification of contaminated blood samples. It is impossible that a simple 'expiration' of date of these 'kits' could result in this mass scale failure of blood banks
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