The latest toll for Japanese Encephalitis (je) in eastern Uttar Pradesh (up) is now more than 1,000 and an average of 10 people are still dying everyday. The prime minister recently quizzed the Union minister for health and family welfare, Anbumani Ramadoss, on the subject, at a meeting held to take stock of the health scenario. Ramadoss revealed that medicines worth Rs 15 crore and other essential supplies have been dispatched to the state.
It is clear that the control of je would end up being a money-intensive affair. During his first visit to the je-affected areas on September 28, 2005, up chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav declared that Rs 25,000 would be given to the families below poverty line whose children have died of the disease this year and Rs 50,000 will be given to those who suffered permanent disability due to the disease. He promised another Rs 8 crore to establish a modern research centre for communicative diseases and Rs 11 crore to upgrade the Baba Raghav Das Medical College hospital.
On another front, Amar Singh, Samajwadi Party general secretary, demanded that the centre provide vaccines by importing them from South Korea. The state government plans to vaccinate seven million children under 15 years of age from November, at a cost of Rs 2.5 billion which is higher than the annual health budget of Rs 1.06 million. The Union government has plans for a state-wise strategy to tackle region-specific health problems such as je in eastern up. An all state conference is to be convened soon to discuss this question.