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Swachh Bharat Mission Key to an Encephalitis-free UP, Says Yogi Adityanath; Hails PM Modi’s 'Mass Movement'

Although introducing behavioural change towards encephalitis was successful, introducing the Swachh Bharat Mission and constructing 2.6 crore toilets as a means to stop diseases such as encephalitis was initially a challenge, according to Adityanath.

News18.com

Updated:September 19, 2019, 2:14 PM IST
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Swachh Bharat Mission Key to an Encephalitis-free UP, Says Yogi Adityanath; Hails PM Modi’s 'Mass Movement'
News18 Creative by Mir Suhail.

New Delhi: The Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) is at the heart of the government’s efforts towards eradicating encephalitis, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has said in an exclusive interview with News18 Network Group Editor-in-Chief Rahul Joshi.

“I think we will be able to eradicate encephalitis. What used to be a dream is turning into reality. Its foundation stone is SBM, which was initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Adityanath said.

Attributing the success of the “street roads to Parliament” campaign against encephalitis to his government, Adityanath attacked the previous Samajwadi Party government, saying it was not interested in implementing the mission. “We implemented SBM in the state and the results are for all to see.”

The UP chief minister’s praise for the Clean India Mission is significant, given that the four-year-long project is nearing the target of helping India achieve 100 per cent Open Defecation Free (ODF) status. Prime Minister Modi is expected to declare India ODF on October 2 — Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary.

“People were laughing when the prime minister picked a broom for Swachh Bharat mission, but now this is a mass movement,” he said.

However, key to lowering encephalitis cases in the state was also re-organising departments and their internal cooperation, said Adityanath. “We made the health department as nodal department and with inter-departmental cooperation, we have brought encephalitis to almost zero level.”

The BJP-led government in the state faced backlash in August 2017 when a spate of child deaths rocked BRD College. Poor health infrastructure had proved to be a serious handicap for the government. More than 500 children died that year in Gorakhpur, with as many as 14 districts in the grip of encephalitis.

In April 2018, the government was lauded by the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) for successfully immunising all children of the state against Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and Acute Encephalitis. JE is an infection caused by the Japanese encephalitis virus occurring mainly in rural parts of Asia. It spreads through the bite an infected mosquito.

The chief minister’s ‘Dastak campaign’ as part of the comprehensive Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) strategy was the driving force behind the accomplishment in 38 affected districts of UP. In 2018, deaths due to encephalitis had dropped from 511 in 2017 to 166, while number of reported cases in 14 districts was slashed to half.

Although introducing behavioural change towards encephalitis was successful, introducing the SBM and constructing 2.6 crore toilets as a means to stop diseases such as encephalitis was initially a challenge, according to Adityanath.

“People were afraid as to how this would happen, but I said it is an opportunity for us,” he said, adding that a collective effort to improve public health in the state got the job done.

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