Malkangiri: Located at 650 km from Bhubaneswar, the capital Odisha, - Malkangiri district now appears to be a cursed land. At least 105 kids have died in the district in the last 64 days due to the outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis (JE). The number of casualty could well swell up in the coming days as the state government is yet found effective ways to tackle the marauding disease.
The vector-borne JE is not new to Malkangiri. In 2012, it had claimed 25 lives. Plans were then chalked out to check reappearance of the disease in the region. However, non-execution of those plans and the state government’s alleged “inability” to foresee resurfacing of the disease has inflicted heavier casualties this time.What is quite shocking is that most of the victims are poor tribals. And more distressing is the fact that majority of the victims are girl children. Of the 83 official deaths, 46 are girls.
The local people as well as the opposition parties blame the state administration for failing to visualise the resurfacing of the epidemic. They contend that although the Centre had advised for large-scale vaccination in Malkangiri and adjoining districts ahead of the rainy season, - the state government did not act on it. As a result, the disease spread fast, devouring so many tender lives.
Japanese Encephalitis is a vector-borne disease spread by Culex mosquitoes. Pigs and wild birds are the amplifying agents of the disease. Culex mosquitoes infected by feeding on domestic pigs and wild birds transmit the JE virus to human beings and animals in peridomestic areas during the feeding process.
The Odisha government’s response so far has been to treat the affected kids at Malkangiri district headquarters hospital (DHH) which is allegedly ill-equipped to handle the massive rush JE affected.
The DHH, until a month ago, did not have required number of doctors to treat the patients and laboratory technicians for immediate examination of blood samples of the suspected JE affected kids. Six doctors were sent from Bhubaneswar and Berhampur only after the killer disease had swallowed up around 50 lives.
With the disease claiming two to four lives everyday in the district headquarters hospital, the local people are losing faith in the quality of healthcare facilities provided by the state government. This fact well be gauged from the fact that Sudarsan Padiami and Irme Padiami of Daniguda village under Malkangiri Sadar block, who lost two of their children in the JE in the third week of October, did not agree to admit their third child Shanti in the DHH.
Faced with strong criticism, collector K .Sudarshan Chakraborthy on November 4 went to Daniguda and literally snatched away the six-year-old Shanti from her parents to admit her in the DHH. Fortunately, a couple of days later Shanti got fully cured....