Cabinet clears Rs 4K-cr plan to tackle encephalitis

A Rs 4,038-crore multi-pronged plan for prevention and control of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) was cleared by the government on Thursday.

New Delhi: A Rs 4,038-crore multi-pronged plan for prevention and control of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) was cleared by the government on Thursday.

The Union Cabinet cleared the proposal of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for implementation of the intervention/activities recommended by the Group of Ministers (GoM) for prevention and control of JE/AES will be implemented initially in 60 priority districts.

The plan will implemented in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Assam within five years from 2012-13 to 2016-17.

It will be jointly implemented by the Ministries of Health and Family Welfare, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Social Justice and Empowerment, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Women and Child Development.

The progress of the multi-pronged strategy will be monitored by a task force set up by the Health Ministry and work on the plan will start soon.

Japanese Encephalitis and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome have claimed almost 1,000 lives in the country in 2012.

The major activities include public health interventions, expansion of JE vaccination, improved case management, medical and social rehabilitation, improved provisions of drinking water and sanitation and improved nutrition.

The biggest component of Rs 2301.57 crore is of Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, which includes Rs 750.23 crore for drinking water and Rs 1551.34 crore for sanitation, while Health ministry`s contribution is of Rs 1131.49 crore.

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment will put in Rs 9.19 crore, while the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation will contribute Rs 418 crore and Ministry of Women and Child Development Rs 177.85 crore.

While Ministries of Health, Drinking Water and Sanitation and Social Justice will make their contributions in the plan through their own budgets for the 12th Plan, Women and Child Development Ministry and Housing and Poverty Alleviation Ministry will seek additional funds from the Finance Ministry within two months of the Cabinet approval.

The plan implementation will help reduce cases of JE/AES through strengthening of JE vaccination and vector control. It will also reduce AES cases by checking the transmission of entero-virus in children through the supply of safe drinking water and enhanced nutritional status of children. This will also reduce burden of disabilities in young children.

The GoM was constituted to evolve a multi-pronged strategy encompassing preventive, case management and rehabilitation measures to address the problems relating to JE/AES.

The GoM had in November last year made some recommendations for tackling the deadly virus which has affected over 6,300 persons across the country till September.

The authorities have so far not been able to identify the virus in the worst-affected states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Among some of the recommendations made by the GoM are provision of safe drinking water to the affected persons by replacing shallow tubewells with deep tubewells and providing proper sanitation facilities in high-risk districts, besides setting up improved health facilities and step-up of vaccination of children in the area.

The GoM also recommended the provision of improved health management systems to tackle JE/AES, improve nutrition of the affected people and undertake their rehabilitation, besides helping people in affected areas to find alternative means of livelihood for pig-rearing population and set up special schools for mentally challenged children.