No Health Bulletin, Data From BRD Hospital: How Yogi Govt is Fighting Japanese Encephalitis
Gorakhpur: It has come to notice that after more than 60 children, mostly infants, died within a week at the Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College hospital in Gorakhpur last year, the hospital authorities have stopped producing the health bulletin.
Apart from other measures, that’s one step health department has taken in the last twelve months in its fight against the killer encephalitis disease.
Perhaps, public outrage and criticism over the deaths triggered the change in norms.
“We now send the data of deaths due to encephalitis to the Chief Medical Officer as per the orders from the Principal Secretary Health and are not authorised to issue any death figures at our end,” said Ganesh Kumar, Principal, BRD Medical College.
A local journalist, who did not wish to be named, says these measures have been adopted to control and regulate news stories on a disease which strikes kids in several districts in eastern-UP every rainy season; and is perhaps their biggest killer.
“When you don’t have the exact number of death figures, how will you write on them? The government just wants to hide the figures and save itself from the embarrassment, else they won’t have scrapped the medical bulletin which was given daily for last 10 years,” said the journalist.
As per new rules, the data on deaths is sent to the CMO office on weekly basis on Mondays. Thereafter, an accumulated report is made with total deaths across the district and the BRD Hospital. Also, the accumulated data only reveal number of deaths due to AES (Acute Encephalitis Syndrome) and not Japanese Encephalitis.
Earlier, a daily bulletin was issued revealing the exact number of deaths at BRD Hospital due to Japanese Encephalitis.
Monsoons this year has been delayed by a good one month. Only since last week has it started to rain intermittently. The conditions are just becoming favourable for mosquitoes to breed. People fear another outbreak of encephalitis as it happens in these weather conditions.
Year after year, the disease has returned to kill and maim by the hundreds.
Jitendra Maurya, who hails from Kushinagar, recalled how horrific it was when his nephew was admitted to BRD Medical College Hospital last year after he was diagnosed with Japanese Encephalitis better known as ‘Dimaghi Bukhar’ in local parlance.
“We rushed to BRD Hospital in Gorakhpur last year when my nephew was diagnosed with Japanese Encephalitis. But the situation worsened at the hospital as his condition further deteriorated. There were hardly any beds, patients kept coming every day. Soon we realised that we should go to some private hospital. I had to arrange some money and we then rushed to a private hospital in Varanasi for further treatment. Luckily, my nephew survived and is safe today,” said Maurya.
Dr Ganesh Kumar, however, says that the hospital is more than ready to deal with the heavy inflow of the patients and also they are now better equipped to deal with the situation.
When told that the hospital is still short of doctors, 16 to be precise, he said, “This is basically due to salary issues, we have been giving advertisements about the vacant posts regularly but to no avail. Now we have written to the Government to increase the salary and hopefully it will be sanctioned soon.”
Ending third party intervention, medical oxygen is now directly being purchased from the manufacturers. There were allegations last year that the deaths at BRD college occurred due to disruption in oxygen supply over unpaid bills to the supplier.
Sanitation, however, remains a matter of concern.
When this reporter visited the BRD Medical College Hospital recently, heaps of garbage could be seen lying around. Some of it was also stuffed under the staircase leading to the wards. There was also a lady who was seen selling Bhelpuri to passers-by.
“I accept that there are cleanliness issues; it is a very old structure and we are short of staff,” admitted Ganesh Kumar.
The Japanese Encephalitis is not new for the people living in the Tarai region. Patients from eastern Uttar Pradesh and border areas of Bihar and even from parts of Nepal come to BRD Medical College Hospital for Encephalitis treatment as this is one of the biggest government facility fighting the menace in this region for many years.
AES is caused mainly by JE and Scub Typhus (a non-viral bacterial infection). The current monsoon season in this part of the country makes it worse.
To fight the disease, the Yogi Adityanath government has prepared a one year plan aiming at early vaccination, segregating pigs from affected habitation, rushing immediate response teams for fogging to stop outbreak, encouraging consumption of water only from an ‘India Mark-2’ tap or hand pump and convincing parents not to let their kids sleep on the mud floor and call the 108 ambulance helpline immediately if they find any symptoms.