National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) today issued notices to governments of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha over recurring cases of Japanese encephalitis and alleged lack of preventive measure being taken by them. According to an official statement released today, notices in this regard have been issued to the Chief Secretaries of the Governments of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha calling upon them to submit a detailed report within six weeks.
The notices were issued after the Commission took suo motu cognizance of a media report about recurring cases of Japanese encephalitis year after year and lack of preventive steps taken in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha. Reportedly, 67 infants have died due to this disease in West Bengal this year. In eastern Uttar Pradesh 315 cases were reported.
During the monsoon, static water becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes and the presence of a number of piggeries makes the ground for incubation of the disease in pigs.
According to media reports, there is a large gap in demand and supply of the preventive vaccine, absence of which makes the children under 10 years of age most vulnerable to the disease due to nutritional deficiency. As per a UNICEF report, 50 per cent of Indian children and more than 70 per cent of women are affected by it.
"Just as it is India has earmarked only 1.67 per cent of the GDP for health sector in 12th Five Year Plan which is very low and India is likely to miss the Millennium Development Goal on Child Mortality," the Commission said in a statement. Allegedly, those who survive after contracting the disease were likely to become mentally or physically deficient for life. A large number of deaths due to disease shows the lack of preventive inoculation of infants in all the traditionally affected districts such as Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, Malda, Jalpaigudi and Siliguri in West Bengal. The Commission has observed that the contents of the newspaper report, if true, amounts to a serious violation of human rights of children.