`25% children affected by JE die`

New Delhi: Government on Thursday admitted that 25 percent of children affected by Japanese Encephalitis die while 40 percent of those who survive become mentally or physically handicapped, but maintained that effective steps were being taken to tackle the disease.

Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad said during a Calling Attention Motion in the Lok Sabha that Japanese Encephalitis is a major public health challenge which has affected children in Gorakhpur and Basti districts of Uttar Pradesh, parts of Orissa and Chattisgarh.

"25 percent of children affected by this disease die while 40 percent of those who survive become physically challenged or lose their mental balance," Azad said.

Sharing data, Azad stated that 1,133 deaths were reported in 2011 alone. Of these, 575 deaths were reported in Gorakhpur and Basti divisions of UP, 250 in Orissa and 197 in Bihar.

He maintained that since 2006 vaccines have been introduced and these have brought down the number of JE cases from 36 per cent to 6.4 per cent of the population.

A Group of Ministers (GOM) has been appointed by Prime Minister to deal specifically with the issue and it has held three meetings till date, Azad said.

Yogi Adityanath (BJP), who had moved the Calling Attention Motion, expressed dissatisfaction with the Minister`s contention and said though over one lakh deaths have taken place in the last 33 years in just seven districts of UP, the government has not done anything substantial. It is still not clear if these deaths are caused by JE or something else, he said.

Adityanath alleged that though the vaccine should be given thrice, the government delivers it only once. "Government is only concentrating on curing the affected instead of eradicating the disease," he said.

He also alleged that JE deaths were being caused also due to shortage of medicines in government hospitals. "95-99 percent of those children who die are from families of dalits, poor and farmers," he said.

The BJP leader insisted that there was huge embezzlement of Central funds sanctioned under NRHM by the UP government.

He demanded that the Centre for Excellence in JE which has been opened in Lucknow should ideally be located in Gorakhpur as 75-80 per cent of the cases are reported there.

He said patients were being used as guinea pigs.

Adityanath demanded that a AIIMS-like institute should be opened in Gorakhpur.

Ramesh Bais (BJP) said basic needs like clean water and nutrition should be provided and effective steps taken to deal with mosquitoes which cause several diseases.

Bhola Singh (BJP) said the government had failed to take effective measures and maintained that the minister should have resigned. He demanded that an all-party meeting to discuss the issue.

Shailendra Kumar (SP) alleged that the number of quacks in villages had gone up and demanded that their proliferation should be checked and alleged that the state government had failed to deliver.


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