The chief minister and health minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee suspended three senior health officials from North Bengal on Friday. The three suspended officials are the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts and the Medical Superintendent of North Bengal Medical College and Hospital. The chief minister said that the officials had not informed the state government in time about the spread of the encephalitis. However, the anger among the people across Bengal is still alive due to more than a hundred deaths in the state. Banerjee said that if the government would have been informed on time, it could have nipped it i the bud.
However, the Telegraph reported that the first cases of the disease were reported in January, and a report was sent to the block medical officer of health. The report was passed on to superintendents of district and sub divisional hospitals, deputy chief medical officer of health, and from there to Swastha Bhavan in the month of January itself. Ideally the issue should have come up in public health review meeting of the month held by the Bhavan. But Banerjee claims she came to know of the cases only a week back.
A local Bengali channel reported that on ground, the situation has not altered. The primary health centres are not equipped with blood test and other diagnosis facilities, while in some hospitals the patients are forced to sleep on ground due to lack of hospital beds. Even doctors are not available in most places for timely treatment.
The government has also announced a programme to remove all pigs from localities. The government will catch the pigs, and when required it will buy pigs as well. However there is no clarity as to what the government will do with the pigs or where it will keep them.
Suspension of top level officials will hardly help in actually dealing with the cases at the ground level; there is no short cut to controlling such massive outbreaks unless the improvement in the state of health infrastructure is brought about.