deadly vector-borne disease, Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).
While the jury is out on whether deaths of 60 children at BRD in five days were due to disruption in oxygen supply or medical causes, the bad news from Gorakhpur is not likely to cease for another two years till the proposed AIIMS comes up here. It is criminal neglect on the part of successive governments at the Centre and in the state that in the last three decades that more than one lakh kids have died in Poorvanchal due to AES and more than a third of them breathed their last at BRD. Needless to say that along with an AIIMS, what is needed in Gorakhpur is a full-fledged viral research centre to developavaccineforAESandaprotocol to fight the disease. Close to 1,000 childrenaredyingeveryyearatBRD due to AES as mosquitos and polluted water inflict children with the deadly virus post-monsoon. Union health minister JP Nadda has now approved building a research centre in Gorakhpur. A 500-bed facility for childreninBRDisalsoslatedtocome up. But this will take its own time. The Yogi Adityanath government vaccinated 90 lakh children in 38 districts to protect them a g a i n s t Jap a ne s e Encephalitis (JE) – but is helpless against the AES. The development of an AIIMS in Gorakhpur has also been long stuck in red tape. It was on a calling attention motion of then Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath that the UPA government had in 2011 assured Parliament that an AIIMS-like institute would be set up in Gorakhpur to fight AES. However, nothing much moved till 2016 when the Narendra Modi government approved setting up a 750-bed AIIMS and Modi laid the foundation stone of the same in July 2016. The deadline for the same is 2019.
However, serious questions would emerge on the Adityanath government if oxygen supply failure is indeed established in an ongoing inquiry as the reason for the deaths.
In 2004, the BJP was embarrassed by a tragedy in then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s constituency Lucknow as 21 women had died in a stampede while BJP’s Lalji Tandon was distributing sarees on his birthday. His son Ashutosh Tandon, the present medical education minister of UP, could now end up paying the price of the embarrassment faced by the CM in his home constituency, Gorakhpur. Only a CBI probe can credibly dispel doubts over the cause of these deaths.
Only a CBI probe can credibly dispel doubts over the cause of the recent deaths