Under sharp criticism for not doing enough to tackle the Japanese encephalitis (JE) and acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh where hundreds of children die or are disabled every year, the Centre has now approved setting up dedicated wards in seven hospitals in the districts worst affected by the deadly infection.
Recognising the need for strengthening efforts for improving the performance of the State Health Departments, the Centre has agreed to set up separate JE/AES ward along with infrastructural facilities at the district hospitals. Trained manpower would be made available and capacity building for doctors, nurses and paramedical staff would also be taken up under the National Rural Health Mission.
The districts where maximum cases of JE/AES are reported are Siddhartha Nagar, Sant Kabir Nagar, Kushinagar, Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Deoria and Basti. However, most cases land up at BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur since that is the only hospital in the region equipped to deal with such cases.
The Centre has also approved and released Rs 23 crore for construction of 100-bedded new ward at BRD Medical College at Gorakhpur with necessary equipment and manpower with the funds available under the NRHM’s flexi pool. For the remaining six district hospitals, the Uttar Pradesh government has been asked to send proposals.
Regarding public health and information, education and communication measures, a model action plan of Kushinagar has been approved for replication in the remaining six districts. It will cost Rs 47.48 lakh each district.
Close to 500 children have already died and thousands disabled due to JE/AES this monsoon season.
Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad visited Gorakhpur on October 20-21 and suggested constitution of a Group of Ministers (GoM) as it was a complex problem which could be addressed only by adopting multi-pronged strategy encompassing preventive, case management and rehabilitation measures. This would involve coordination between health, drinking water and sanitation, rehabilitation of disabled children and nutrition.