In Go­rakh­pur, E stands for elec­tion, not en­cephali­tis

Ne­tas In Adityanath’s Seat Speak Of All Is­sues But Dreaded Dis­ease Res­i­dents draw up 6-pronged de­fence plan in bat­tle against en­cephali­tis

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES NATION DANCE DEMOCRACY - @times­ @times­

Out­side the Baba Raghav Das Med­i­cal Col­lege, speak­ers on hired auto rick­shaws shout ‘Yogiji ki kya pe­hchan, Radha Mo­han ka­mal nis­han’ in sup­port of BJP can­di­date Dr Radha Mo­han Agar­wal. The ca­coph­ony is a stark con­trast to the si­lence in­side the med­i­cal col­lege’s Nehru Hos­pi­tal that has treated thou­sands of chil­dren down with brain fever for over four decades

Pall of death hangs on the en­cephali­tis ward ev­ery mon­soon, killing 500 chil­dren and leav­ing 4,000 with de­vel­op­men­tal de­lays, or neu­ro­log­i­cal com­pli­ca­tions if not dis­abil­ity. But en­cephali­tis has found no men­tion in elec­tions

Go­rakh­pur ac­counts for max­i­mum num­ber of en­cephali­tis cases and deaths. Go­rakh­pur: The nurse on duty at epi­demic ward of Go­rakh­pur Med­i­cal Col­lege said only four pa­tients were un­der treat­ment. “Be­fore 2005, over 35% kids ad­mit­ted died. That year, 1,300-plus deaths were recorded,” she said. Res­i­dents come and go but each with a chill­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. On why en­cephali­tis has not been an elec­tion is­sue, pa­tients, at­tent­dants and care-givers said, “Re­li­gion is above ev­ery­thing else in Yogi’s con­stituency.” The chief of Go­rakhnath Mandir in­flu­ences over 64 assem­bly seats in the re­gion.

En­cephali­tis has, how­ever, been a po­lit­i­cal plank al­ways. Sit­ting MP and chief of Go­rakhnath Tem­ple Yogi Adityanath and UP chief min­is­ter Akhilesh Yadav stake claim to get­ting nod for an All In­dia In­sti­tute of Med­i­cal Sciences for the re­gion in July 2016. “Yogi Adity-



Rawat (Go­rakh­pur): When Dharma Devi’s grand­son Sonu was run­ning a fever a few days back, it was as if his­tory was re­peat­ing it­self. The old woman had lost her grand­daugh­ter to en­cephali­tis last Oc­to­ber and it all had be­gan with a fever.

In a re­gion where en­cephali­tis is ram­pant, vil­lagers trust God more than doc­tors. Given the mys­tery sur­round­ing the dis­ease, lo­cals re­fer to it as the ‘nauki bi­mari (new dis­ease)’. For most moth­ers, in such a sit­u­a­tion a mother should lay the baby on the bed and then move a glass of wa­ter in air over the baby seven times.

“Nauki bi­mari Yam­raj ka bu­lawa hai... pani se saya baha diya jaat hai (en­cephali­tis is an in­vi­ta­tion from Yam­raj. The rit­ual is per­formed to mis­guide his mes­sen­ger),” said Dharma Devi. Thank­fully Sonu sur­vived as the ‘paani’ rit­ual was per­formed timely and was im­me­di­ately taken to the hos­pi­tal “af­ter ward­ing off the shadow of the mes­sen­ger”.

Even as sci­en­tists and mi­cro­bi­ol­o­gists are re­search­ing fac­tors caus­ing en­cephali­tis, lo­cals of Jo­gia Poll vil­lage are not aware of the ba­sic pre­ven­tive mea­sures that can help mit­i­gate the risk posed by en­cephali­tis. The pre­ven­tive mea­sures call for ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties like avail­abil­ity of safe drink­ing wa­ter, san­i­ta­tion and nu­tri­tion, which can be eas­ily ar­ranged by the lo­cal MLA. anath holds a meet­ing ev­ery month on health is­sues in the re­gion,” claimed an ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial.

So why didn’t en­cephali­tis find a men­tion in his party’s man­i­festo? En­cephali­tis cam­paigner Dr R N Singh told TOI, “That’s be­cause he is the Hindu face of his party who is ex­pected to re­mind peo­ple of their re­li­gion in the elec­tions and garner votes. But those dy­ing for decades are not his vot­ers.”

Akhilesh Yadav is given some credit for work on en­cephali­tis with the Sa­ma­jwadi am­bu­lance and com­pen­sa­tion of Rs 50,000 to cou­ples who lost a child to en­cephali­tis and Rs 1 lakh to par­ents of a sur­viv­ing child. But the CM has been crit­i­cised for not mak­ing health depart­ment sub­mit the roadmap for en- In

a ma­jor boost to the re­gion’s fight against the dis­ease, res­i­dents of Go­rakh­pur, Deo­ria and Ma­hara­j­ganj have chalked out a six-point man­i­festo to mit­i­gate en­cephali­tis. The man­i­festo calls for the for­ma­tion of a strat­egy like the one launched against po­lio. The agenda calls for im­ple­men­ta­tion of a pre­ven­tion strat­egy in Jan­uary as cases start pour­ing in af­ter April, booster shots for chil­dren who had been ad­min­is­tered Ja­panese en­cephali­tis vac­cine, con­struc­tion of In­dia-mark hand pumps and toi­lets among other things. A copy of the man­i­festo has been handed over to rep­re­sen­ta­tives of var­i­ous po­lit­i­cal par­ties. As per the dis­trict ad­min­is­tra­tion’s claims over 16 lakh res­i­dents in Go­rakh­pur and Basti have been cephali­tis con­trol de­spite be­ing pulled up by the Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion.

The sad­dest part is that even suf­fer­ers don’t feel there is any con­nec­tion be­tween elec­tions and de­mand for bet­ter treat­ment fa­cil­i­ties for en­cephali­tis. Dhar­men­dra Singh from Shivpur Karmahwa vil­lage said, “Elec­tions to bi­jili, sadak, paani, naali, khadanja, roz­gar ke bare mein hot hai... beemari ajari to hamri apni samasya hai (elec­tions are about road, drains, wa­ter and jobs but health is a per­sonal mat­ter).” Luc­know: From seek­ing votes in muhdikhai on her maiden visit in Pur­van­chal to “Mere an­gane mein tumhara kya kaam hai” jibe at Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s com­ment of be­ing an adopted son of UP, Sa­ma­jwadi Party’s proud rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dim­ple Yadav has come a long way. Hav­ing al­ready ad­dressed 21 pub­lic meet­ings this elec­tions, she has learnt the art of strik­ing an in­stant rap­port with the gath­er­ing, iden­ti­fy­ing her­self as “bhabhi” (brother’s wife) of the youth and the “Bahu” of the el­derly.

The tran­si­tion, from her much pub­li­cised scripted speech in Par­lia­ment as Kan­nauj MP to the ex­tem­pore de­liv­ery with the help of one­line notes has been sub­tly but surely no­ticed dur­ing her cam­paign trail for the 2017 assem­bly elec­tions in UP. Em­bold­ened by the huge crowds her pub­lic meet­ings are draw­ing, more and more SP can­di­dates are seek­ing her ap­pear­ance in their con­stituen­cies. “She has six pub­lic meet­ings

BJP says ‘Ka’ stands for Congress. Your Akhilesh bhaiyya says ‘Ka’ is for com­puter, ‘Sa’ for smart­phone, which will help you get in­for­ma­tion about govern­ment poli­cies and ‘Ba’ for ‘bachche’ (chil­dren) our fu­ture.” In Jaun­pur sched­uled for re­main­ing two phases,” said a se­nior SP leader aware of her poll itin­er­ary. Mere an­gane mein”

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