Nearly 500 children have died this monsoon season

Criticised for not doing enough to tackle the spread of 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 the setting up of dedicated wards in seven hospitals in the districts worst affected by the deadly infection.

Recognising the need for strengthening the 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 from where maximum cases of JE/AES have been 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 it 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 a 100-bed new ward at BRD Medical College with necessary equipment and manpower with 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 for each district.

Close to 500 children have died and thousands have been disabled due to JE/AES this monsoon season.

Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad visited Gorakhpur on October 20 and 21 and suggested constitution of a Group of Ministers (GoM) saying that it was a complex problem, which could only be addressed 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.