Encephalitis alert in Assam; 50 deaths reported so far
The government of Assam, where Japanese Encephalitis has claimed 50 lives since April, has canceled the leaves of all government doctors and health department employees until September-end to deal with the disease outbreak in the state. It said police complaints will be filed against doctors and health officials who neglect their duties. So far, 190 Encephalitis cases have been reported in Assam. Here's more.
"We have canceled leave of all government doctors and employees of all government health facilities. We are on alert. We will take punitive action doctors not attending their duties," said Assam's Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. He also said that the state government is taking all steps to combat the Encephalitis situation and to prevent a Bihar-like situation where 140 children have been killed.
"Unauthorized absence (of government doctors and government health facilities' staff) from the place of posting even after duty hours will be treated seriously amounting to criminal dereliction of duty," Sarma said. He also said that regular visits to affected areas have been made compulsory for all Additional Deputy Commissioners, Joint Directors, and District Medical Officers with at least two hospital visits every week.
"The state government has made arrangements for free transportation of suspected fever cases from the community to the district hospital while reserving beds for JE (Japanese Encephalitis) and acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in intensive care units and wards," Sarma said at a press conference. "It will also bear the cost of diagnosis and treatment of patients," the Health Minister added.
"We have decided to intensify our blood sample collection drive. So far we have collected 12.5 lakh blood samples," Sarma said. "Our focus is to treat patients in the initial stage of the disease. We will also start an intensive adult vaccination drive from November," he added. The Assam government will also provide Rs. 1 lakh per patient for the treatment.
Nine districts in Assam are vulnerable to Japanese Encephalitis. Since 2013, more than 700 people died of the mosquito-borne disease in the state. This year, the disease has affected most of the state's upper districts like Jorhat, Golaghat, Dibrugarh, and Lakhimpur apart from lower Assam's Kamrup district. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan earlier sent a high-level team to review the situation in Assam.