Skip to main content

Why is NIOH-ICMR 'official' making false claims on silicosis?: Health rights NGO

Counterview Desk

In a letter to the Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, Dr Jagdish Parikh, trustee, health rights NGO People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, and Jagdish Patel, director, PTRC, have said that the claim being made for the use of biomarker for detection of silicosis raises concern about scientific tenacity of the diagnosis of the deadly occupational disease.
The letter also objects to the reported claim by a top health official that it is possible to detect silicosis at the sub-radiological stage. It asks, “What is this subradiological stage of silicosis? We have not heard any such scientific term being used. Again, the report is using a term which is not found in any scientific literature so far. Is this term acceptable by ICMR? Is ICMR thinking of any explanation?”

Text:

This is with reference to our letter dated November 28, 2021. In our communication we had raised our concern about the scientific tenacity of the biomarker for early detection of silicosis. We had questioned sensitivity and specificity of this test. We reiterated that CC66 protein decreases in many lung diseases.
Therefore positive screening test can be due to other lung disease. The screening test is not diagnostic. It suggests high probability. Therefore, X-ray is required for confirmation. It may happen that the screening test is positive but X-ray is negative. The authors have not given data for this possibility. We have not heard from you in this regard until now.
In the meanwhile the “Times of India” carried a report in its issue of April 20, 2022. We wish to draw your attention to this report which quotes Dr Kamlesh Sarkar, Ex-Director, National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) generously. The report claims that “scientists at NIOH, based at Ahmedabad, are now in the final stages of obtaining new detection kits for subradiological silicosis for mass use.” We have failed to understand what is new? Is it something different than the kit developed in 2021?
The report identifies Dr Sarkar as ICMR-NIOH Director. As per our information Dr Sarkar had been removed long back as Director NIOH, and if the newspaper is still claiming him to be director, it is misinformation being spread, and a matter of grave concern. ICMR is expected to make public clarification in this regard as NIOH is a national institute.
The report further claims, “if silicosis is detected at the sub-radiological stage…” What is this subradiological stage of silicosis? We have not heard any such scientific term being used. Again, the report is using a term which is not found in any scientific literature so far. Is this term acceptable by ICMR? Is ICMR thinking of any explanation?
The report also claims, “if silicosis is detected at the sub-radiological stage, major silico-tuberculosis and lung cancer occurrences can be prevented.” We have not a single diagnosed case of lung cancer following silica exposure in India yet. So the claim that the test would help prevent lung cancer is farfetched.
One more false claim: “These diseases afflict lakhs of citizens in India.” How come it affects citizens? It only affects workers who are exposed to fine particles of silica over years. Is ICMR going to be mute spectator when false claims are being spread in the name of science?
The report says, “NIOH scientists say that an intervention at this stage can help save lakhs of Indians who are vulnerable to contracting TB or lung cancer.” It does not clarify on the method of intervention.
At present, the workers who have silicosis on X-ray and continue working in the very industry or occupation where they were exposed to silica, do not get any help for preventing further deterioration of the disease. Unless the government approves the method suggested by Dr Sarkar intervention is not possible.
We think that there should not be any haste in advocating this method of early detection of silicosis. another study with proper epidemiologic design is required to confirm specificity and sensitivity of the CC16 biomarker before its use on mass scale is recommended.
We invite your immediate intervention in stopping using name of ICMR and science. Let ICMR sponsor more research on proving sensitivity and specificity of CC16 to diagnose silicosis.

Comments

TRENDING

Vaccine nationalism? Covaxin isn't safe either, perhaps it's worse: Experts

By Rajiv Shah  I was a little awestruck: The news had already spread that Astrazeneca – whose Indian variant Covishield was delivered to nearly 80% of Indian vaccine recipients during the Covid-19 era – has been withdrawn by the manufacturers following the admission by its UK pharma giant that its Covid-19 vector-based vaccine in “rare” instances cause TTS, or “thrombocytopenia thrombosis syndrome”, which lead to the blood to clump and form clots. The vaccine reportedly led to at least 81 deaths in the UK.

'Scientifically flawed': 22 examples of the failure of vaccine passports

By Vratesh Srivastava*   Vaccine passports were introduced in late 2021 in a number of places across the world, with the primary objective of curtailing community spread and inducing "vaccine hesitant" people to get vaccinated, ostensibly to ensure herd immunity. The case for vaccine passports was scientifically flawed and ethically questionable.

'Misleading' ads: Are our celebrities and public figures acting responsibly?

By Deepika* It is imperative for celebrities and public figures to act responsibly while endorsing a consumer product, the Supreme Court said as it recently clamped down on misleading advertisements.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

US 'frustrated' with India’s discomfort: Maritime exercise in South China Sea

By Vijay Prashad*  In early April 2024, the navies of four countries -- Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and the United States -- held a maritime exercise in the South China Sea. Australia’s Warramunga, Japan’s Akebono, the Philippines’ Antonio Luna, and the United States’ Mobile worked together in these waters to strengthen their joint abilities and -- as they said in a joint statement  -- to “uphold the right to freedom of navigation and overflight and respect for maritime rights under international law.” 

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Palm oil industry 'deceptively using' geenwashing to market products

By Athena*  Corporate hypocrisy is a masterclass in manipulation that mostly remains undetected by consumers and citizens. Companies often boast about their environmental and social responsibilities. Yet their actions betray these promises, creating a chasm between their public image and the grim on-the-ground reality. This duplicity and severely erodes public trust and undermines the strong foundations of our society.

India 'not keen' on legally binding global treaty to reduce plastic production

By Rajiv Shah  Even as offering lip-service to the United Nations Environment Agency (UNEA) for the need to curb plastic production, the Government of India appears reluctant in reducing the production of plastic. A senior participant at the UNEP’s fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-4), which took place in Ottawa in April last week, told a plastics pollution seminar that India, along with China and Russia, did not want any legally binding agreement for curbing plastic pollution.

No compensation to family, reluctance to file FIR: Manual scavengers' death

By Arun Khote, Sanjeev Kumar*  Recently, there have been four instances of horrifying deaths of sewer/septic tank workers in Uttar Pradesh. On 2 May, 2024, Shobran Yadav, 56, and his son Sushil Yadav, 28, died from suffocation while cleaning a sewer line in Lucknow’s Wazirganj area. In another incident on 3 May 2024, two workers Nooni Mandal, 36 and Kokan Mandal aka Tapan Mandal, 40 were killed while cleaning the septic tank in a house in Noida, Sector 26. The two workers were residents of Malda district of West Bengal and lived in the slum area of Noida Sector 9. 

'Fake encounter': 12 Adivasis killed being dubbed Maoists, says FACAM

Counterview Desk   The civil rights network* Forum Against Corporatization and Militarization (FACAM), even as condemn what it has called "fake encounter" of 12 Adivasi villagers in Gangaloor, has taken strong exception to they being presented by the authorities as Maoists.