Encephalitis cases on rise, Govt ensures quick response

While the numbers reported in India have gone up significantly in last four years, the mortality rate has more than doubled since 2010. Meanwhile union health ministry has assured prompt action on the issue

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The health minister, Mr J P Nadda while recently speaking in the Parliament revealed information on various initiatives to tackle the different forms of Encephalitis.

As per the union health minister, Mr JP Nadda recently in Muzaffarpur and Malda, cases reported for Encephalitis were neither due to Japanese Encephalitis nor due to entero-viruses. Normally, Encephalitis is affecting children below 15 years of age. However, in the last few years, epidemiological data has revealed that many adults are also being affected and cases of morbidity and mortality, particular for JE, have been observed in adults in Assam and recently in the districts of North Bengal.

The total numbers of Encephalitis cases reported were 5,167 in 2010, 8,249 in 2011, 8,344 in 2012, 7,825 in 2013 and 9,912 cases this year up to 17th December. For mortality the numbers were 679 in 2010, 1,169 in 2011, 1,256 in 2012, 1,273 in 2013 and 1,495 up to 17th December, this year. In terms of distribution of cases this year, we find that the maximum reported numbers of 3,291 cases were from Uttar Pradesh, followed by 2,317 cases in West Bengal, 2,194 cases in Assam and 866 cases in Bihar. The main districts affected in Uttar Pradesh are Khushinagar, Deoria, Maharajganj Gorakhpur, and Sidharthnagar; in Bihar the district Muzaffarpur; in West Bengal, the districts Jalpaiguri, Bankura, Darjeeling, Coochbehar, Burdwan and Bankura and in Assam, the districts Sonitpur, Golaghat, Dhimaji, Shivsagar, Dibrugarh, Kamrup (Metro) and Tinsukia

"The government of India launched a National Program for Prevention and Control of JE/AES in the end of 2012-13. This Program envisages a multipronged strategy in 60 high priority districts in five high endemic States of Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. The districts covered include 20 in Uttar Pradesh, 15 in Bihar, 10 in Assam, 10 in West Bengal and 5 in Tamil Nadu. The stakeholder Ministries include Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation with the task to provide safe drinking water and sanitation facility; Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment with the task to provide rehabilitative services to disabled children; Ministry of Women and Child Development to provide nutrition to children in the affected districts; Ministry of Housing and Poverty Alleviation to provide drinking water facility in urban slums and Ministry of Human Resource Development (Education Department) to develop special curriculum for mentally and physically disabled children. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is the nodal Ministry with the task to vaccinate the children in the endemic districts, to improve the case management by establishing Pediatric ICUs at district hospitals, to establish Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Departments and to strengthen public health measures including information-education-communication/behavior-change-communication for prevention and control of JE/AES," mentioned Mr JP Nadda.

Under the National Program, for JE vaccination, out of 60 high priority districts, vaccination has been completed in 59 districts, the remaining one District (Kanpur Dehat) will also be covered during this financial year. Funds have been released for setting up of Pediatric ICUs in 27 districts. We are following up with the State Governments for setting up and complete operationalization of these Pediatric ICUs on priority. This requires civil work, procurement of equipment and recruitment of manpower. While the Physical and Medical Rehabilitation Department at BRD Medical College, Gorakhpur is already functional, the Units at KG Medical College, Lucknow; BHU, Varanasi; Bankura Medical College; North Bengal Medical College; Gaya Medical College and Patna Medical College require upgradation. Units are required to be set-up at Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh and at Guwahati Medical College in Assam. Out of total 10 proposed Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Units, Rs 25 crores has already been released for 5 Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation units in 2013-14 and for another 4 units release of Rs 20 crores is under process. Vector control and surveillance activities are being supported under National Vector Borne Disease Control Program. Surveillance is also being undertaken through the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project under the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

For detection of non JE pathogens, Indian Council of Medical Research has established a field unit of National Institute of Virology, at BRD Medical College, Gorakhpur. In addition, ICMR is conducting research-cum-intervention projects. NIV, Pune is supplying IgM ELISA kits to sentinel laboratories for the detection of JE cases. These kits are funded by the Directorate of National Vector Borne Disease Control Program, government of India.

 

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