New Delhi: A CNN IBN investigation has found that despite warnings of an encephalitis crisis were given as early as in the first week of September, the health ministry and the minister sat on the report.
In the BRD medical college in Gorakhpur, 500 children have died of encephalitis in the last 2 months, 10 in the last 48 hours alone.
Could the health minister of the country Gulam Nabi Azad, seen here visiting the hospital last week reacted a little earlier to the crisis, been more pro active in saving India's dying children?
Yes, if this report from the National Disaster Managemnet Authority is to be believed.
On August 6 this year, the authority conducted a workshop with officials from easten UP warning of the crisis and asked Ghulam Nabi Azad to visit the area immediately.
The ministry and the minister SAT on the report for 2 months, ignoring the suggestion of a visit not once but twice. First on September 15 and then on October 3. Busy with Telangana, Azad found time to go to the encephalitis epicenter only on the insistance of Rahul Gandhi.
Gandhi, who was visiting Amethi the same day couldn't be seen ignoring the health crisis in an election year.
The story of this shocking neglect gets worse.
The NDMA wanted The health ministry to launch a national vaccination programme like the one for pulse polio , asking for a task force monitor it.
The report also pointed out that there was a shortage of essential equipment at the BRD Medical college in Gorakhpur, only 9 out of 32 ventilators were functional, 2 months down the line.
The task force is yet to be set up, though after a series of reports by CNN-IBN the minister has promised one. At his press conference in Gorakhpur he dismissed the early warnings put out by the NDMA.
Gulam Nabi Azad said, "I have recommended a multi pronged strategy involving other ministries, concerning hygiene, water, women and child welfare and education."
The encephalitis epedimic has been around for the last 33 years but the Centre has always deflected blame on the Uttar Pradesh govt. Questions are now being asked about how a ministry which was hyperactive during the urban scare of swine flu is washing its hands from the rural killer.