Japanese Encephalitis: A Silent Killer in Uttar Pradesh

Eastern UP is considered to one of the most backward areas lying in the indo-gangetic plains. Although being a part of the world’s most fertile alluvial plain, the place is still to get its fair share from the recent economic development in the countries. Majority of population in this part of country works as wage labor in factories and farms n other states. But poverty is not the only curse looming upon this area; it’s regularly revisited by floods and disease.
One such disease is Japanese encephalitis which is prevalent in this area since the decade of 70’s and more than 20000 kids have died of the disease since then. Last year more than a thousand children died of the disease and the problem is still prevalent in the area with the same intensity. It is a mosquito-borne viral disease which mainly attacks the children, 80% of whom are below 10 years. An official estimate says that around 25% children who catch the disease die.

The major cause of the disease is poverty and poor hygienic conditions in the area, which provide an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Also people’s neglect towards timely medications because of poor economic conditions and unqualified medicos operating in the area at a large scale worsens up the matter. The lack of availability of infrastructure in government hospitals also added to the woes, as poor people can’t afford expensive medical treatment in private hospitals. The matter was then raised in both the houses of parliament which gained some voices of concern over the matter and government acted towards finding a solution for it. A group of ministers was created to take an overview of the scenario and to present it in front of the prime minster. Health minister himself actively showed concern and visited the affected area and hospitals of Gorakhpur, major encephalitis hit district of Uttar Pradesh.

Government decided to setup a research center in the King George medical college, Lucknow, which is amongst the best hospitals in the states. Infrastructure was set up and facilities were provided, but Lucknow being at a distance of 7-8 hours via road was still inaccessible for the patients. In order to curb the threat, government also led a large scale vaccination campaign in the worst hit areas, but the campaign failed due to hot weather conditions and lack of infrastructure to keep the vaccines at low temperature. After failure of these steps the question was again raised in Lok Sabha on the last day of winter session by Yogi Adityanath, the local M.P. The question got a positive response and government has provided a budget to equip the Baba Raghav Das medical college, Gorakhpur, with the facilities and infrastructure similar to AIIMS, Delhi. Another good, news in the same context that came up was development of an Indian Vaccine which will be more effective in taking up the fight with the demon of encephalitis. Results of these steps are yet to come but this time there is positivism among the local people along with the Government.

We hereby take the privilege to heartily thank the Uttar Pradesh Government as well as Central Government for their endeavor in taking preventive measures in uprooting the dreadful disease from the State. It is a sincere appeal on behalf of the local people of the affected areas of Uttar Pradesh to the Government to continue with their efforts and keep the area safe against this fatal disease- Japanese Encephiltis.

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