Encephalitis outbreak: More doctors rushed to Malkangiri

Bhubaneswar:  With the Japanese Encephalitis (JE) toll mounting to 42 in Malkangiri district with the death of a three-year-old girl, the Health department had a review meeting here today to discuss about the measures to curb the further spread of the disease.

Speaking to the media after the meeting, Health minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak said the top priority of the Health department is to expedite the treatment of the affected patients at the district headquarters hospital (DHH) in Malkangiri.

He said as per the reports received by the Health department till date, at present treatment of 116 JE and suspected JE patients are underway in Malkangiri of which 25 have completely recovered and discharged from the hospital. The remaining 53 children are under treatment of which majority of them are stable barring three children who have been admitted to the ICU.

The nine doctors sent from the headquarters are presently staying at a camp inside Malkangiri DHH to look after the patients. Apart from this, doctors have been engaged at the Community Health Centre (CHC) in Kalimela. The Health department has also deputed more number of staff nurses to Malkangiri to assist the doctors in the treatment of the patients.

“This apart, Director, Health Services and Additional Secretary, Health, have left for Malkangiri this morning to take stock of the situation”, the minister said.

Talking about the preventive measures, he said the district administration in coordination with the health officials has taken steps to isolate pigs from the human habitations on war-footing. “One of the notable feature is that the awareness level among the people of the affected villages  on the disease has substantially gone up as they are now admitting their children in the hospital instead of taking them to the village quack for treatment”, he pointed out.

Asked about the outbreak of JE in Nilagiri (Balasore) and Brahmagiri (Puri) areas, Nayak said these are isolated cases. “But we have sought status report from the respective district Health officials to examine the case”, he noted.

Shalini Pandit, managing director, National Health Mission (NHM) said “To monitor the vector control mission and treatment of the patients in Malkangiri, a state level control room having six members has been set up from where three members including myself are monitoring the entire work while three other members—Director, Health Services, Joint Director, National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) and Joint Secretary, Health— have gone to Malkangiri and providing day-to-day information to the control room. We have sent all necessary medicines and equipment including, doctors, staff nurses, laboratory technicians”.

She further said considering that more patients are being admitted in the DHH, provisions have been made to add 40 more beds. Apart from this, Rs 50 lakh has been sanctioned to Malkangiri CDMO to meet any urgent requirements.

Replying to a question on lack of paediatrician in the treatment of affected children in the DHH, Pandit said apart from a paediatrician in the DHH, the Health department has sent four paediatricians from the headquarters who have been working there for more than a week. The doctors at the DHH are present 24X7 to provide treatment to the patients.

Asked about the number of JE deaths in Malkangiri district, she said till date 39 patients have died of the disease.

Meanwhile, talking to media persons after reaching New Delhi this evening, chief minister Naveen Patnaik said the state government is in constant touch with the Centre to bring the disease under control. Besides, the state government has taken all possible measures to contain the disease from spreading to other areas of Malkangiri district.