Health Minister Brahm Mohindra’s claim in the Cabinet meeting on Monday that there were just two deaths due to drug overdose in the state is based on “unreliable” data.

Sources say the Health Department doesn’t maintain any data on deaths caused by drugs in the state. They say the data collection exercise to present it in the meeting was done on WhatsApp in the last week of June. All civil surgeons were asked to provide figure of deaths due to drug overdose since April 1 last year. No wonder, most civil surgeons sent reports of zero death.

The sources say there was no question of providing such data as there isn’t any. The state’s mental health cell deals with all kind statistics related to drugs. Dr Sukhwinder Kaur, Programme Officer, Mental Health, confirmed that they did not have any data on deaths caused by drugs, whether overdose or adulteration. The department had only been maintaining record of births and deaths in its statistics wing, she added.

Interestingly, all drug-related deaths are being passed on as deaths due to cardiac arrest in the department records. Sometime ago, a Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar-based activist of Association for Democratic Reforms, Parvinder Kittna, had exposed the department over the issue. He had sought information under the RTI on the cause of death of men aged between 18 and 40. “There were 136 youths, whose cause of death was mentioned as heart attack. If so many young people are dying of heart attack, then it is an epidemic,” says Kittna.

There are villages like Jainpur in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, where the official record claims that many people aged between 15 and 40 died of heart attack and none due to drugs.

Kittna says his organisation had verified the cause of some deaths from villages and it was found that many of the deceased were addicts.

A senior health official says the state is in the grip of drugs, particularly for the past one decade, but the government never felt the need to compile any related data. The sources say after recent deaths, the Health Department tried to compile data from various districts, but failed to get any input. Kittna alleges that not maintaining any such data is convenient for the government. “It is a political decision to deny the public information about the fatalities being caused by drugs,” he says.

© Association for Democratic Reforms
Privacy And Terms Of Use
Donation Payment Method