Uttar Pradesh health department seeks help from ICMR, CDC
The health department will take help from experts at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and US-based agency Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to check the spread of Japanese encephalitis.Updated: Sep 01, 2017 15:51 IST
Under attack for Japanese encephalitis deaths at Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College,Uttar Pradesh health and family welfare department has sought assistance from various agencies to identify the pathogen infecting children in the region.
The health department will take help from experts at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and US-based agency Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to check the spread of Japanese encephalitis in Gorakhpur region.
In April, the department had launched an intensive vaccination drive in 20 districts prone to Japanese encephalitis (JE) and acute encephalitis syndrome (AES).
About 93 lakh children were vaccinated before the onset of monsoon. Though the number of JE patients came down, AES cases continued to grow.
Talking to HT, secretary (health and family welfare) V Hekali Zhimomi said, “The clinical and laboratory test of the samples of patients’ serum attributed 50% of AES cases to scrub typhus, Coxsackie virus, enterovirus (polio entrovirus, echo virus), malaria, herpes, meningoencephalitis, tuberculous encephalitis while the remaining 50% of the pathogens remained unknown.”
The initial study attributed scrub typhus to mites and unhygienic conditions.
A team of experts from ICMR visited BRD Medical College and government hospitals after the death of the 30 children on August 10 and 11 to take stock of ground reality.
Later, the team led by ICMR director-general Soumya Swaminathan met chief minister Yogi Adityanath to discuss the measures required to strengthen health facilities.
During the meeting, the health department officers drew the attention of ICMR scientists towards unidentified pathogens that were infecting children in Gorakhpur and adjoining districts.
“The ICMR officers assured assistance and recommended better health services in rural areas and mobilising human resource at government hospitals,” Zhimomi said.
She said since quacks and healers active in rural areas were the first contact person for patients, the health department was planning to involve them in fighting the menace.
Quacks, popular as ‘jhola chhap doctor’ in east UP, will be given training to guide suspected AES patients.
Auxiliary nursing midwives (ANM), accredited social health activists (ASHA) and anganbari workers in villages are being trained to create awareness among the people.
The department has also decided to deploy health education officers in awareness programme.
The focus will be on early admission of patients at nearby primary health centres (PHCs) and community health centres (CHCs). The officers will also create awareness among villagers through information- education-communication (IEC) regarding preventive measures, symptom of the disease and early examination by medical practitioners.
“The department has identified 676 high-risk villages in Gorakhpur region where maximum cases of JE/AES have been reported. The district magistrates have been directed to launch sanitation drive in villages, organise awareness campaigns and carry out fogging to eliminate mosquitoes and mites which are the carriers of the virus,” she said.
Services of Christian Medical College (CMC) Vellore and PATH Foundation will be taken to train government doctors managing critical care units at the hospital.
The health department is also working to build confidence of government doctors at PHCs and CHCs.
It was found during the study that instead of handling patients, the doctors at health centres referred them to BRD Medical College.
The aim is to reduce the burden of medical college which receives huge number of patients from Bihar and Nepal as well. The state government is improving facilities at district hospitals and CHCs.
“The doctors have been asked to admit JE/AES patients to the hospital rather than referring them to medical college,” she said.
Talking to HT, chief minister Yogi Adityanath said the state government had decided to seek the assistance of private doctors and members of the Indian Medical Association to check AES.
The unit of National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, located in Gorakhpur, will be strengthened to conduct research work.