GORAKHPUR/KUSHINAGAR: The community health center (CHC) in Campierganj block of Gorakhpur served no good to Ramadheen when his five years old son Golu fainted following a seizure.
Educated up to class VIII, Ramadheen from Baghai Bari village knows what fainting with seizure means particularly when the child is down with fever. "I rushed to a private nursing home which referred my son to the medical college," said the man. After battling with acute encephalitis syndrome for 31 days, the little one died.
Doctors at the BRD medical college, that treats most of the encephalitis cases, regret that most patients reach the centre when it is late. TOI went to the encephalitis-affected areas and found the primary and community health centres and the district hospital bereft of even the basic facilities.
Missing primary link: Commissioner, Gorakhpur has directed health department to conduct a death audit of all children who die of AES. A health team went to the village and after interviewing a few locals, blamed the deaths on use of shallow hand pump and defecation in the open. They missed surveying the state of affairs at the Campierganj CHC.
On visiting the place TOI saw the health facility had a two-bedded encephalitis unit combined with a corner for newborn care. Dirty linen and filthy floors made even the team of doctors cover their noses. There were cobwebs in every corners of the ward. There was a small oxygen cylinder but no mask to use it. A rusty incubator kept in a corner, a class IV employee said, was defunct.
Adjacent to the 'ward' was a labour room which showed no sign of sanitisation and sterilisation. Kept on a dust-laden medicine tray inside Sukhaniya primary health centre's emergency were a needle and thread that seemed like an invitation to tetanus. This PHC in Kushinagar had a shallow hand pump.
Passing the buck: Community health centre Kasia in Kushinagar is an FRU (first referral unit). Ideally, an FRU should provide 24-hour delivery services including normal and assisted deliveries and emergency obstetric care, including caesarean sections and other medical interventions. It needs to be equipped to provide emergency care to sick children as well.
But with just one gynecologist and three nurses, round the clock services are a distant dream. A physician with a diploma course is the only hope for children but in last one year, the centre has not admitted a single patient of encephalitis, though it has referred 66 suspected patients to the district hospital.
Being close to tourist hub Kushinagar, however, power cuts aren't as rampant in this part of the district. A doctor said power cuts don't last for more than two hours during working hours, besides the scheduled power cut of around four hours. This affects essential laboratory and pathological services and facilities like X-ray.
Equipment of no use: About eight kilometers from the Kasia FRU is the new primary health centre Sapaha. The doctors including an ayurved graduate posted at the PHC have not seen even a suspected case of encephalitis. "No one even talks about it," claimed Dr Ramesh Chandra.
But residents in the area easily enumerate those who took ill due to the 'nauki bimari', the colloquial for the lethal disease. Appliance meant to sterilise disposables was never used and hand bills on encephalitis awareness were torn into bits to pack medicines.
The DOTS centre at Sukhaniya primary health centre in Kushinagar has been equipped with an electron microscope but the technician was rarely able to use it. Had it not been for the old microscope, the man would have failed to detect the presence of bacilli causing tuberculosis, all because of the unannounced power trips in the area.