In 2012, the UP government may have taken various steps to control the spread of encephalitis in the eastern districts of the state, but the year-end report shows little improvement on ground from the previous years.
The figures released by the Department of Health show a reduction of only six cases and 16 deaths due to acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in the state in 2012 as compared to 2011.
On the positive side, however, four of the 20 encephalitis-hit districts have managed to bring the disease under control, and have reported zero cases of both AES as well as Japanese Encephalitis (JE) in 2012. They are Ambedkarnagar, Rae Bareli, Lucknow and Jalaun. With this, the total number of districts affected by encephalitis has reduced to 16. Likewise previous years, the worst affected districts by AES remain to be Gorakhpur with 800 positive cases and 168 deaths, and Kushinagar with 904 cases and 129 deaths.
Last year, as many as 3,484 people were affected by the disease and 557 died of it. In 2011, the corresponding figures were 3,490 and 583. However, a considerable fall was noticed in the number of Japanese Encephalitis patients. While in 2011, as many as 224 JE patients were recorded in the state, with 27 fatalities; in 2012, the corresponding figures stood at 139 and 23.
Health officials attribute it to the special JE vaccination drive in 2010 as well as inclusion of the vaccine in the routine immunisation programme of the state.
During the encephalitis outbreak season this year, the state arranged for ambulances as well as appointment of pediatricians at all Community Health Centres (CHCs) of the 20 encephalitis-hit districts. Various sensitisation programmes for grassroot level health workers, doctors and paramedical staff were held. Instructions were issued to admit all patients of fever at the CHCs. Additional ventilators were provided at BRD Medical College, Gorakhpur, where all serious cases of the disease were referred. Steps were taken to ensure clean drinking water in the area and constant monitoring of the cases was done at the directorate level. Various campaigns were undertaken to create awareness regarding hygiene, safe drinking water and prevention of encephalitis.
In 2011, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had visited Gorakhpur and promised infrastructural support to the BRD Medical College, Gorakhpur. For the 100-bed special ward for encephalitis patients at BRD Medical College, which is still under construction, Rs 18 crore has been