Japanese encephalitis is responsible for 50,000 clinical cases and approximately 15,000 deaths a year.(Photo Courtesy: ibnlive.in.com)
The union health minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan has ordered all stops be removed for 100 percent immunization of children in select districts of states affected by annual visitations of two deadly strains of Encephalitis. The reaction came after the death of 44 children in six districts of Bihar over the past fortnight, but the minister is concerned about the annual death toll in adjoining eastern Uttar Pradesh as well, which is in the 500-600 range.
Dr Harsh Vardhan said, "I am extremely distressed at the rapid spread of encephalitis and it is high time extraordinary steps are taken to stymie it. I have asked ministry officials to work in tandem with their counterparts in the states and identify the most vulnerable districts within a day. The actual immunization drive will take place over June 22 and 23."
The high level meeting was attended by Mr Upendra Kushwaha, union minister of State for Rural Development, former Health Minister of Bihar, Ms Ashwini Choubey, Mr Mahant Adityanath, member of Parliament from Gorakhpur, Mr Ram Kumar Sharma, member of Parliament from Sitamarhi, health officials from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, the Center, and scientists.
The minister asked officials to collect the views of all stakeholders. "I don't want this to be purely a government exercise. We must involve charities, Indian Medical Association, and religious organizations doing social work, even school children, to ensure that all children are brought to the immunization centres," Dr Harsh Vardhan said.