The Uttar Pradesh government claims there is an eight percent drop in Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) cases this year because Encephalitis Treatment Centers (ETCs) and Paediatric ICUs (PICUs) have been made functional where they are absolutely required: at the level of Community Health Centers (CHCs) and Primary Health Centers (PHCs). The reality is vastly different.

Regardless of the need for urgent access to a doctor and specialised treatment within 24 hours of the disease striking, none of the two PHCs and one CHC BusinessLine visited had a functional ETC or PICU. At the Campierganj CHC, which receives a patient load of between 300-500 daily, there are just two doctors – Bhagwan Prasad and Mohd Jilani. Among six others who are to be present, two are completing their training at BRD Hospital and the other two are posted in flood-affected areas. The fifth is on medical leave.

For the two doctors present, besides the 300-odd patients they examine, they have to conduct family planning workshops, immunisation programs and perform administrative work, besides handling Japanese Encephalitis and Scrub Typhus cases. The ETC does not function and most infected patients are referred to the BRD Medical College Hospital.

“I live in the campus here and work. On Mondays, the inflow is about 500 patients. What is the point of complaining? This is how things are,” says Bhagwan Prasad.

In neighbouring Pipiganj, the PHC has no doctor. It has a pharmacist who disburses medicines. “We get about 50-60 people every day. But they all have to be referred somewhere else because we don’t’ have a doctor,” the pharmacist says. – The Hindu Business Line

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