LUCKNOW: While Bihar is still grappling with the scourge of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) which has claimed more than a hundred lives for want of timely medication and logistics, UP CM Yogi Adityanath, who learnt his lesson in 2017, has been able to keep the menace under control this year so far.
Who else but Yogi Adityanath can understand the plight of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar as he himself had gone through the same catastrophic situation at BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur in August 2017 immediately after taking the reins in UP.
Gorakhpur, the home district of Yogi, had hit the global headlines as it witnessed the death of 70 children infected with suspected AES in a period of 48 hours. However, those casualties in BRD Medical College were also attributed to lack of oxygen cylinder. A number of heads, including the BRD Medical college principal Dr RK Mishra, his wife Poornima Shukla and other senior doctors, had rolled. Dr Mishra and his wife were even booked under various sections of IPC and were jailed. The trial is still on.
Besides Gorakhpur, all the adjoining districts like Mau, Basti, Azamgarh, Kushinagar and Devipattan were in the grip of deadly disease inflicting children. The UP health department data shows that over 4,000 children were plagued by AES and over 600 had died in 2017.
However, in 2018, the figure of children inflicted by the deadly fever came down to 3000 and around 250 died. Taking the lessons from 2017 tragedy, the UP health department conducted a widespread vaccination campaign to put a leash on Japanese encephalitis across UP.
Consequently, this year, a little over 400 cases of AES have come to light since January and the casualty figure has been restricted to just 16 in various districts of Gorakhpur division. In the corresponding period last year, the figure of AES related deaths stood at 98.
Reviewing the work and worth of health and family welfare department last week, CM Yogi had directed the health officials to complete all the preparations and be ready with the anti-AES plan of action even before the onset of monsoon in the state as the outbreak of JE/AES spreads during the rainy season which provides conducive conditions to the vector to thrive.
As per the state health authorities, the government has tied up with the UNICEF to execute its action plan against JE/AES. Even the state health authorities have been collaborating with the UN agency in executing the anti-JE/AES vaccination drive in UP for the last three years.
In all, a dozen departments have launched a coordinated plan with health department playing the nodal agency to execute the plan of action, said the health authorities. Already on toes, state health authorities have surpassed the immunisation target of 26.11 lakh children by reaching out to 26.82 lakh children across 38 districts of the state till May, this year.