21 August 2010
By Manjari Mishra
"Even though the region will be taken up for vaccination only in November, the sanction has come as a big relief", said Dr SP Ram, director general (health and family welfare). Last minute cancellation of a proposed drive in Gorakhpur division in April amid reports of expired vaccines in the stock had led to a huge public outrage. Faced with the prospect of forcing down semi-potent dosages on unsuspecting public, state officials had panicked even as the Centre stoutly refused to replace the stock.
The fresh supply shall restore public confidence and ensure maximum participation in the drive, Anant Kumar Mishra, state health minister told TOI on Friday. UP, he added, has also been accorded priority over other claimants – Assam, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Goa – this time.
This goes to prove they have finally realised the gravity of the situation, he added. Total number of 1,081 JE cases have been reported in UP this year alone. Though officials claim this could include patients from Bihar and Nepal apart from eastern UP, actual figures could be much high as at least 20 per cent of cases in the rural belt go unreported.
However, "the good news is that the virus is now confined to only seven districts in Gorakhpur and Basti division as against 34 JE sensitive districts which were afflicted by UP’s worst killer still 2005. And most of the credit, said Dr VS Nigam (nodal officer, vaccination), goes to the immunisation drive that has covered 3.52 crore children from the age group of 1 to 15 since 2006".
Once the seven districts selected for a repeat vaccination campaign due to the recurrence each season are taken care of, JE cases, officials believe, "could taper down to single digit".