The state government's battle plans to combat an encephalitis epidemic ravaging the state has virtually come undone with the specially-created health centres hit hard by absenteeism by doctors.
The harsh truth was revealed when health minister Nitin Agarwal carried out surprise checks at the district hospital in Basti and the community health centre in Harraiya on Thursday.
Over 150 people have died of suspected cases of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) and Japanese encephalitis (JE) in several districts over the past few weeks.
Official sources said that 200 out of 400 affected children are struggling for their lives in different health centres.
The health department has upgraded district hospitals, community health centres and primary health centres to set up 100 encephalitis treatment centres (ETC) in the affected districts.
Agarwal said no doctor was present at the out-patient ward (OPD), where patients had been waiting since morning.
Even the wards were littered with garbage while the medicine store was found locked.
Agarwal quoted patients as saying that a section of doctors put pressure on them to purchase medicine from privately-owned chemists' shop and even to get pathology tests done at private laboratories.
"The nexus between government doctors and private pathology clinics is clear," the minister said.