At least 30 children lost their lives due to encephalitis in last 48 hours at Gorakhpur’s BRD Hospital, reported news agency ANI. “Total 30 deaths in last 48 hours. Supply of liquid oxygen was disrupted yesterday due to pending payment. Requested suppliers not to disrupt supply,” said District Magistrate Rajeev Rautela. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s Lok Sabha constituency of Gorakhpur has seen at least 114 deaths due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) this year alone. AES is an umbrella classification under which comes the diseases Japanese Encephalitis (JE), water-borne encephalitis and scrub typhus, among others. As an MP, Yogi Adityanath had actively raised the issue.
Meanwhile, state medical education minister Ashutosh Tandon, however, clarified to ANI that no deaths took place due to lack of oxygen supply, adding that seven people have died today. Tandon was quoted by news agency ANI as saying: “District Magistrate has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident, report will be out in 24 hours. Three deaths happened in Neonatal ICU, two due to acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) and two due to non-AES today.”
Terming the death of children as unfortunate, UP Congress President Raj Babbar said, “It shows the insensitivity of the the state government.” “The state government is responsible for the deaths. How can there be shortage of oxygen? The CM himself was on visit to (adjoining) Mahrajganj yesterday. Gorakhpur is his home district and he should have visited the medical college in Gorakhpur to know about the ground reality there,” he said.
He sought resignation of the health minister on moral grounds and compensation of Rs 20 lakh each to the kin of children who died. Babbar said that the chief minister should seek a report from all districts about the health facilities there. Samajwadi Party spokesman Rajendra Chowhdury too termed the incident as unfortunate and demanded resignation of the health minister.
“The health minister should resign on moral grounds. CM should fix accountability and also take responsibility. Gorkahpur is his home district and such incident there shows insensitivity of the government,” he said.
In the wake of this incident, an inquiry committee has been set up to ascertain the exact causes of the deaths and it has been asked to submit its report by Saturday evening.
In an interview to the Indian express, Ravindra Kumar, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Gorakhpur, said the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) is reducing with each passing year. “The CFR last year was more than 20 percent and this year we have reduced it to 16 percent. In 2015, the CFR was somewhere near 30 percent,” CMO said, adding that the threat of JE has nearly ended although it has, like lsat year, claimed three deaths this year.
“In the months of August to October, people are more prone to acquiring some form of AES. Therefore we are trying to make people aware of the importance of cleanliness, drink clean and boiled water, and should rush to hospital if there is fever,” said the CMO.
(with PTI inputs)