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Can UP’s Primary Health Centres Treat Rising Encephalitis Cases?

Kushinagar with the most number of encephalitis cases hasn’t had a doctor in 36 years in its primary health centre.

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The number of cases of Japanese Encephalitis are on the rise in the Purvanchal region of Uttar Pradesh. Approximately ten patients get admitted to Kushinagar district hospital everyday, of which 2-3 cases are so critical that they have to be admitted in the ICU ward directly.

Children are easy targets of this acute viral infection which turns fatal if not treated right from the early stages.

In 2017, the UP government promised to improve facilities in primary health centres. The promises were hastily made after news broke that at least 72 children had died within 72 hours at Gorakhpur’s BRD government hospital due to an acute shortage of oxygen. Almost a year on, the promises still ring hollow.

The Quint's correspondent Vikrant Dubey set to check on the conditions of primary health centres in the adjacent areas of Gorakhpur.

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Pharmacists and Compounders Play Doctor

Kushinagar district’s primary health centre has not witnessed a single doctor in the last 36 years. In fact, pharmacists and compounders have been filing in for the role of a doctor here.

Kushinagar which is roughly 70 kilometers away from Gorakhpur records the highest number of patients suffering from encephalitis. The lack of primary health centres and mostly importantly doctors makes it worse for the patients since the infection oftrn goes undetected in the early stages.

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When The Quint visited the Chap Primary Health centre in Kushinagar, it found out that a pharmacist has been prescribing medicines.

We are doing whatever the government asks of us. My job is primarily to distribute medicines but the government wants us to treat the patients in the absence of doctors.
Rakesh Singh, Pharmacist

Uttar Pradesh has a shortage of more than 7,000 doctors. According to the Kushinagar CMO, Akhilesh Kumar the government is struggling to meet the shortage of employees and doctors.

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Local Forced to Seek Treatment at Private Hospitals

The locals are the ultimate sufferers because of the neglected state of healthcare. Rajendra, who is resident of Kushinagar, said that they are compelled to seek treatment at private hospitals because of the healthcare facilities and infrastructure at primary health centres.

Soaring temperatures has brought back encephalitis but when will the primary health centres be equipped to battle the infection?

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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