LUCKNOW: The state health and family welfare minister Ahmad Hasan has assured all possible steps to arrest the rising encephalitis death toll. But perhaps the message has not reached the health department which remains insensitive towards the issue.
In October last year, Manav Seva Sansthan had urged the National Human Rights Commission to take a note of deaths of children in eastern districts of UP. They backed their plea with proper facts, figures, documents and pictures. The commission took the letter as a complaint and asked the state health department to submit a reply.
However, the state health department has furnished a reply to the same just a few weeks ago. Moreover the kind of reply submitted also reflects the level of seriousness of health officials.
It's a common knowledge that a minimum of two patients share a single bed in the encephalitis wards of BRD Medical College, Gorakhpur, during the disease season. And three to four children sharing the same bed during the peak season is a common sight. But the health authorities refuse to believe this.
In point number 3 of the complaint, the petitioner said, "the pathetic situation of poor children affected by JE virus can be understood from the fact that four to five children are treated on a single bed." The health department's reply in this regard was disappointing.
"It is submitted that the action is at the end of the administration of the medical college... how do they manage patients but seldom has it got full occupancy even in the extreme conditions. Anyhow, the medical college is constructing a separate 100-bedded ICU."
The state health department continued to stress that they were best possible arrangements have been made to ensure that children got the best of treatment right from district hospital to the level of community health centre. But the claim falls flat on the ground zero. TOI went for a field visit to block CHC Kasia in Kushinagar district. This centre admitted only one patient of encephalitis in 2011. However, it has referred 66 suspected patients to the district hospital.
Yogesh Dube, member, national commission for protection of child rights, summoned top health officials to Delhi and asked them to explain why children in encephalitis affected districts were dying.
Extremely dissatisfied over the measures taken by the state government to check encephalitis, Dube had told TOI, "the situation has not changed an inch since the previous season. We can see four children sharing a bed in BRD medical college and ill-equipped health facilities even now. The government hasn't done anything concrete."