CULLING THE VIRUS

Gorakhpur has turned the cor­ner in the fight against en­cephali­tis

India Today - - STATES - By Ashish Misra

When a month of treat­ment at a pri­vate hospital in Patna made no dif­fer­ence to twoyear-old Man­deep, his fa­ther Jo­gesh­war Rao from vil­lage Fa­reed­pur in Ch­hapra dis­trict of Bi­har, brought him to Baba Raghav Das Med­i­cal Col­lege, Gorakhpur. His only son, Man­deep had been suf­fer­ing from Acute En­cephali­tis Syn­drome. Ad­mit­ted to the pae­di­atric in­ten­sive care unit (PICU) of BRD Med­i­cal Col­lege, his con­di­tion is now sta­ble. Twenty-five other chil­dren suf­fer­ing from AES ad­mit­ted with him are also get­ting free quality treat­ment.

Gorakhpur, the home dis­trict of Ut­tar Pradesh chief min­is­ter Yogi Adityanath, first faced a ma­jor en­cephalitic epi­demic in Au­gust 2017, four months af­ter the BJP gov­ern­ment took charge. More than 500 chil­dren died that year in Gorakhpur and its neigh­bour­hood, while some 14 dis­tricts in east UP were af­fected.

Once the cri­sis was over, Adityanath started work­ing on a two-tier strat­egy to tackle the disease. Health fa­cil­i­ties in the re­gion were im­proved and a mass aware­ness pro­gramme launched. The chief min­is­ter di­rectly mon­i­tored the pro­gramme with monthly re­view meet­ings. A new 71-bed wing equipped with ven­ti­la­tors and a PICU was es­tab­lished in March 2018 in BRD Med­i­cal Col­lege for the spe­cialised treat­ment of en­cephali­tis pa­tients. A neona­tal ICU with 78 ra­di­ant warm­ers was also set up. BRD Med­i­cal Col­lege prin­ci­pal Dr Ganesh Ku­mar says,

“The state gov­ern­ment has spent over Rs 100 crore to strengthen fa­cil­i­ties for the treat­ment of en­cephali­tis pa­tients. Now we have 498 beds in the pae­di­atric ward of the col­lege. Af­ter the new 500bed wing comes up, we’ll be the only gov­ern­ment hospital in north In­dia to have 998 beds in its pae­di­atric wing.”

The UP gov­ern­ment has also set up eight mini PICUs in Gorakhpur divi­sion. Nodal health of­fi­cer for en­cephali­tis in the Gorakhpur re­gion, Dr V.K. Sri­vas­tava says, “Each mini PICU has two beds with a ven­ti­la­tor for en­cephali­tis pa­tients in ru­ral ar­eas. Sixty-seven en­cephali­tis treat­ment cen­tres (ETCs) have been es­tab­lished in the re­gion.”

A mul­ti­level aware­ness pro­gramme, ‘Das­tak’, was launched in Fe­bru­ary 2018, with health min­is­ter Sid­dharth Nath Singh’s full back­ing. Singh says, “The first Das­tak cam­paign trained a to­tal of 348,513 peo­ple in­clud­ing doc­tors, malaria of­fi­cers, nurses, ANMs (aux­il­iary nurse mid­wives), gram prad­hans, paramed­i­cal staff, teach­ers and oth­ers. Af­ter that, a door-to-door aware­ness pro­gramme was started in seven dis­tricts of the Gorakhpur and Basti di­vi­sions. From July 1, a fresh ‘Das­tak’ cam­paign has been pro­posed for 18 dis­tricts in east UP.”

The ini­tia­tive has shown pos­i­tive re­sults. In 2018, deaths due to AES dropped from 511 in 2017 to 166 in 14 dis­tricts of east UP. The num­ber of AES cases re­ported also dropped from 2,247 in 2017 to 1,047 in 2018. In 2019, so far only 16 deaths have been recorded.

TO­TAL CARE The pae­di­atric ICU at BRD Med­i­cal Col­lege, Gorakhpur

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