New Delhi: Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad
has written to UP Chief Minister Mayawati asking her
government to take urgent steps to check the spread of acute
encephalitis syndrome (AES) which has claimed over 200 deaths
Sources in the health ministry said that Azad had written
the letter after he visited Gorakhpur and Siddharth Nagar, two
affected districts of Uttar Pradesh.
"The letter gives credit to the state government for
success in controlling Japanese encephalitis but adds that
lack of sanitation and proper drinking water were hampering
the battle against AES," a ministry official said.
In his letter Azad has said that the findings of
scientists from National Institute of Virology, Pune suggested
that AES, a water borne disease continued to prevail in the
region as proper sanitation and drinking water were not
available to residents.
Azad asked Mayawati to take meetings of all concerned
departments of her state to stop the outbreak of AES.
Speaking to reporters, Azad confirmed that he had written
the letter to Mayawati stressing that to fight AES, hand pumps
for drinking water needed to be replaced by
pumps that get water from more than 70 feet below the ground
surface where the AES virus cannot reach.
"We had told the state government earlier also and they
had done some work but more needs to be done," Azad told
Referring to crib deaths in Kolkata`s BC Roy hospital,
Azad said that several of the deaths there had been of
patients who had been rushed in critical stages from other
It is in the rural areas where there is lack of medical
care, that a lot of problems arise, he said.
"There is a shortage of doctors in the country and even
among those, doctors were reluctant to work in rural areas,"
Azad said adding that the National Rural Health Mission
had also suffered because of this attitude.