Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s Lok Sabha constituency of Gorakhpur has witnessed at least 114 deaths due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) this year. AES is an umbrella classification under which comes the diseases Japanese Encephalitis (JE), water-borne encephalitis and scrub typhus, among others. As a Member of Parliament, Adityanath had actively raised the issue.
In the last two days, 16 new cases of AES and three deaths were reported from Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College, the largest in the district. However, the hospital and district health officials are claiming that the situation is much better than the previous years. According to Ravindra Kumar, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Gorakhpur, 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. “We have prepared separate wards and the tests and treatment for AES and JE are free of cost,” CMO added. According to Dr. R N Singh, social activist and a campaigner in the Encephalitis Eradication Movement, there hasn’t been a significant decrease in the number of cases and deaths. “It is just the start of August. Though we hope that the figures doesn’t match the earlier ones,” Singh said, adding that the government soon needs to implement the National Encephalitis Eradication Program (NEEP), which is ready and focuses mainly on prevention, which according to him is “surely possible if exercised timely”.