Killer encephalitis not on poll agenda

Killer encephalitis not on poll agenda

Fluttering flags of different political parties atop homes and loudspeakers blaring parodies in support of various contenders in the Assembly polls may give an impression of normalcy in this land of Guru Gorakhnath, the founder of the Nath Hindu monastic movement, and make one oblivious to the lurking death in the form of the killer encephalitis.

While political leaders promise development of the region through round-the-clock power supply, good roads and industries in their election speeches, none of them make any mention of the illnesss, which has claimed the lives of thousands of children in the past few decades and still continues to take its toll.

“It is extremely unfortunate that encephalitis, which kills around 1,000 children every year in the region, has not been included in the poll manifesto of any political party,” said Dr R N Singh, chief convener, Encephalitis Eradication Campaign. Singh and his colleagues had released a ‘people’s manifesto’, which had listed the wishes of the people of the region.

“We are sending the manifesto to the leaders of all major political parties, urging them to take note of the same and act upon it,” he told DH. Singh said that despite the huge number of deaths, no serious effort was made to initiate preventive measures.

“What is more worrisome is that the death toll may increase this year as the preventive measures, which should have been launched by now, will be delayed owing to the polls,” he said.

Referring to the proposed AIIMS here, Singh said that such a medical centre would not be of any help as far as combating encephalitis, commonly known as brain fever, is concerned.

“AIIMS may be good for carrying out research, but it cannot deal with encephalitis simply because there is no treatment for it. Prevention is the best way to control it,” he said. Gorakhpur goes polls on Saturday.

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