Thanks to official apathy, funds meant for rehabilitation and distribution of medicines have been stalled, putting the lives of as many as 33,391 fluorosis patients in peril

Hyderabad: A lot of hue and cry has been made over of fluorosis-affected districts in the State and volumes have been written about the ill-fated patients of the dreaded disease, but government schemes for the prevention and cure of the chronic condition caused by excessive intake of fluorine compounds seems to be remaining on paper till date.

According to sources, non implementation of National Programme for Prevention and Control of Fluorosis (NPPCF) in three districts of Telangana has left as many in lurch.

The NPPCF was supposed to be implemented in Nalgonda district which tops the list of fluoride affected areas in the entire country, followed by Karimnagar and Mahbubnagar. But, due to delay in the release of funds, implementation of the programme came to a grinding halt.

“Of the 33,391 fluoride-affected people, as many as 21,713 are students have been affected with dental fluorosis. Skeletal fluorosis, non-skeletal fluorosis and crippled fluorosis are a few symptoms of the fluoride-affected people. Though the seriousness of the problem was informed to the officials concerned, there is no change in the situation,” said an official looking after the NPPCF.

What is most worrying is that the Union government has to release Rs 4.12 crore for the financial year 2015-16. But, most of the times the funds are being released in the month of January, and it is taking three months to get the released funds to get deposited in the State account for disbursement under NPPCF. This situation has been defeating the very objective of the NPPCF to provide the much-needed relief to save the people from falling victims in the fluoride-affected districts in Telangana.

The NPPCF programme was first started in Nalgonda district as the number of fluoride cases being reported stood more than those reported from across the country. As per the programme, each of the three fluoride-affected districts of Nalgonda, Karimnagar and Mahbubnagar were allocated Rs 42 crore.

As part of the programme, the staff deployed used to test the urine sample and conduct physical examination of six to 12-year-old students in the schools across the three districts. But, now, due to lack of funds the screening programmes had come to a halt, the sources said.

According to the NPPCF project sources, as many as 20,354 fluoride patients have been suffering with dental fluorosis, 1,999 patients with skeletal fluorosis, 11,016 with non-skeletal fluorosis and 22 patients with crippled fluorosis in three districts. Of the total number of dental fluorosis affected people, 21,713 are school children. What is more worrisome is fluoride has been found in 82 per cent of the urine samples of the students tested.

Adding to the sorry state of affairs, the fund crunch has also hit the rehabilitation and distribution of medicines to fluorosis victims. Wheel chairs, walking sticks and stands distributed under the NPPCF too have been stopped. Sources said that salaries of the staff were not paid for more than one-and-a-half years.