Odisha grapples with jaundice outbreak

Odisha has been struggling to grapple with the outbreak of jaundice that has affected thousands of people in various districts for the past few months.

Cuttack, the second biggest urban centre in the state, is the latest to report a series of jaundice cases in the last few days, which, despite efforts from the state  government and the local authorities, is proving to be harder to contain.

Reports available with the state public health department suggest that a total of 3,966 jaundice cases have been reported in various districts in the last few months. Sambalpur town in western Odisha’s Sambalpur district alone accounted for 2,945 cases, while Cuttack reported 116 cases.

Though official estimates put jaundice deaths to 36, unofficially the figure is suspected to be as high as 50. 

Besides Sambalpur and Cuttack, the state government has also declared coastal Odisha’s Khurda and Jajpur, and western Odisha’s Bolangir as jaundice-hit districts.
Secretariat officials said the disease has been brought under control in Sambalpur and efforts are on to contain the situation in Cuttack.

“The situation is already under control in Sambalpur. In Cuttack, we expect things to improve within the next few days because of the steps which have already been taken. Other districts too are being closely watched”, said a senior official in the health department.

As many as 50 expert teams made of nine members each have been pressed into service in Cuttack, while a separate jaundice ward has also been set up at the Sriram Chandra Bhanja(SCB) medical college and hospital, the largest state-run facility in Odisha.

State Health Secretary Arti Ahuja has visited Cuttack two days make to make an on the spot assessment of steps taken to control the disease.

Opposition parties slammed the BJD government for its laxities in repairing the drinking water infrastructure in urban and semi-urban centres, since the pipe water supplied to the residents proved to be a major source of the outbreak.

Sources said damaged pipes are being replaced and repaired on a war footing in many cities, particularly in Cuttack and Sambalpur.

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