The paediatric ICUs set up by the government in nine districts of the state for treating child victims of a killer viral disease have failed to serve the purpose, a health official said.
The acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) has killed 128 children so far and 150 others are battling for their lives in various government hospitals. On an average, five to six children are dying of AES daily. Seven children died in Gorakhpur on Thursday.
Ideally, the patients should have been undergoing treatment at nine 10-bed ICUs the government had decided to set up in the worst-hit nine districts after realising facilities at government hospitals were insufficient to deal with AES and Japanese Encephalitis.
However, while Rs 20 crore has been spent on the construction of the ICUs and procurement of instruments, the government had not appointed doctors, paramedical staff and technicians to operate them.
The health department official, who wished anonymity, said that lives of many children could have been saved had the ICUs been working.
In 2012, a company, Pushpa Sales (Private) Limited, was given the contract to set up the ICUs in Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria, Maharajganj, Basti, Siddharthnagar, Sant Kabir Nagar, Bahraich and Lakhimpur Kheri districts. It was asked to make the ICUs functional within six weeks.
But two years down the line, the ICUs have been reduced to mere buildings.
"The company has not provided the technical staff to operate the equipments," said a health department officer.
A spurt in AES/JE cases after the onset of monsoon had prompted chief medical officers and chief medical superintendents of all the nine districts to push the government to appoint staff for the ICUs. Some of the ICUs lack ventilators and generators, though chief secretary had in June asked health department officials to install these at the earliest.
Director general health Dr AS Rathor said efforts were being made to make all the ICUs functional. He said community and primary health centres have been converted into encephalitis treatment centers to provide treatment to the patients. Doctors will be available round the clock at these centres, he said.