Japanese Encephalitis: Central Team Sent To Assam

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan

Amid reports of rising cases if Japanese encephalitis (JE) in Assam, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday dispatched a central team to review the situation here.

Harsh Vardhan directed the ministry to extend all support and assistance to the state government.

“I am closely monitoring the situation. The health ministry is coordinating with the Assam government for prevention and management of Japanese encephalitis to ensure that the cases don’t rise in the state,” Vardhan said.

He further said that the health ministry is providing all logistical and technical support to the state government in terms of surveillance and diagnostic kits to strengthen their efforts in addressing JE.

Harsh Vardhan urged all the stakeholders to start rigorous awareness campaigns regarding the preventive steps to be taken by the communities.

It may be mentioned here that the central team is headed by Additional Secretary Sanjeeva Kumar and he is accompanied by the senior officers from the National Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme, New Delhi.

As per the directions of the health minister, the team will reach the state by Sunday evening to review the situation.

“All 27 districts of Assam were covered under the JE vaccination campaign for those aged between one to 15 years followed by routine immunisation,” said an official statement.

Adding further, it stated, “Ten high endemic districts of Assam (Shivsagar Barpeta, Nagaon, Sonitpur, Darrang, Udalguri, Bongaigaon, Cachar, Morigaon, Nalbari) have been included under the multipronged strategy for prevention and control of JE.”

“These districts have also been covered under adult JE vaccination campaign. Out of 10 high burdened districts, funds have been provided for the establishment of seven Pediatric ICUs (PICU). Of these, four PICUs have been made functional,” the statement added.

It may be mentioned here that for the diagnosis of Japanese encephalitis, till date 28 sentinel surveillance hospitals have been identified and the health ministry is providing diagnostic kits to the state free of cost.

It is worth mentioning here that the Centre, for the rehabilitation of JE disabled patients, has provided funds for the strengthening of two Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PMR) departments at Dibrugarh Medical College and Guwahati Medical College.

Japanese Encephalitis is vector-borne encephalitis transmitted by Culex groups of mosquitoes. These mosquitoes breed mainly in rice fields and large water bodies rich in aquatic vegetation.

Migratory birds along with pigs in the community play an important role in the transmission of Japanese encephalitis from one area to another.

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