Centre rushes medical teams to Bengal to deal with encephalitis

July 24, 2014 12:00 am | Updated 05:37 am IST - Kolkata:

Union Health Minister writes to CM expressing concern

Concerned with the deaths due to acute encephalitis syndrome and Japanese encephalitis, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan has written to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee informing her that the Centre is sending teams to the State.

In his letter, Dr. Harsh Vardhan also referred to the issue of neonatal deaths in the State’s hospitals. “The flow of reports from West Bengal on neonatal deaths and fatalities from acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) and Japanese encephalitis (JE) prompted me to send specialist teams to the affected areas during the current month,” the letter written by the Minister on Wednesday said.

Referring to the “tragic deaths of newborn between late June and mid July" (particularly in the state-run hospital in Malda district), Dr. Harsh Vardhan pointed out that there were “infrastructure issues” which need to be addressed because “we are only a year away from the deadline for meeting Millennium Development Goals on Mother and Child Health parameters.

On the issue of AES and JE, he said the Ministry had initiated an immunisation drive against JE and cleared installation of urgently needed hospital infrastructure in affected districts.

“May, I recommend, for a start, intensive and extensive consultation between State and Central officials, on the steps to be taken on an emergency basis, as also the permanent measures that would be necessary to avoid such tragedies in future,” Dr Harsh Vardhan asked in the letter.

He also assured that the Centre would extend all the help to the State government to tide over the crisis.

More deaths

Meanwhile, three deaths were reported in North Bengal Medical College and Hospital over the past 24 hours. Over 83 deaths were reported across the State this season. According to officials of the State Health Department since January 2014, 105 deaths had been reported in the State due to encephalitis.

A majority of the deaths, over 60, occurred at North Bengal Medical College and Hospital.

"We have received 41 fresh cases since yesterday. The number of new cases is decreasing gradually,” B R Satpathi, Director of Health Services told journalists in north Bengal.

Meanwhile, the State’s MPs from the BJP and Congress raised the issue of encephalitis deaths in Parliament.

BJP MP from Darjeeling, one of the affected areas of the State, demanded that Centre send teams to the affected areas, and Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury supported the demand.

Three more deaths reported in North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in 24 hours

State’s MPs from the BJP and Congress raise the issue in Parliament

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