Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today directed the health authorities to step up preventive measures to check the spread of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) that have claimed 336 lives so far this year.
Gogoi also instructed the health authorities to spray bleaching powder, conduct fogging at the piggeries and hold awareness campaigns across the state, said the Chief Minister Office (CMO).
Taking stock of the quantity of medicines available in the hospitals and health centres, Gogoi instructed the health authorities to procure medicines to ensure there were no shortages.
Gogoi further directed the department to go on a massive vaccination drive to contain the disease affecting some districts of lower and upper Assam, the CMO said.
The health officials informed Gogoi that vaccination drives would be carried out from November next and a proposal on it would be submitted shortly.
Gogoi also wanted the health officials to issue daily bulletins on the preventive measures taken up by the health department to contain the disease, the daily stock of medicine in all hospitals and health centres and other vital statistics for the information of people, print and electronic media.
Meanwhile, the Director of Health Services (Family Welfare) has taken up the issue of Adult Japanese Encephalitis vaccination in the remaining districts of the state covering a population of 117.34 lakh.
Adult vaccination was carried out in nine districts of Kamrup (Rural), Kamrup (Metro), Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Dibrugarh, Golaghat, Jorhat, Tinsukia and Sivasagar in February this year, the Office informed.
Principal Secretary Health and Family Welfare Department Sanjeeva Kumar met union Health and Family Welfare Department Secretary Lov Verma and apprised him about the situation.
The officials in the H and FW Ministry, including experts are of the view that during transmission phase of the disease vaccination will not yield the desired result, the CMO said.
Chief Secretary Jitesh Khosla also reviewed the situation and directed the department to adopt both short term as well as long term measures.
As short term measures Khosla wanted some dedicated beds to be kept reserved for JE cases at district hospitals; three paediatric ICUs at Sivasagar, Lakhimpur and Golaghat to be made functional; Information Education and Communications (IEC) activities be geared up; child development project officers (CDPOs) to be involved actively for dissemination of IEC messages.
As long term measures, he said JE vaccination of all age group covering all districts should be initiated; ICUs in district hospitals to be set up; Public Health Engineering Department to be involved for safe drinking water, etc.
As compliance of a union Government's decision, the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department has been asked to initiate steps for pig rearing under net and take other actions such as fogging, keeping the pigs away from human habitation, etc., the CMO said.
Fogging operation is being carried out in all the endemic and affected districts, including Guwahati Municipal Corporation areas, with necessary fund for it placed with the districts.
Necessary steps to procure Elisa readers for detecting the disease have also been taken up with the Centre requested to provide sufficient quantity of diagnostic kits.
Stating there are now 13 sentinel labs including one in MMCH Guwahati covering 12 districts, the source said another 15 sentinel sites with required Elisa readers for the rest of the districts are on the anvil.
Twenty-four of the 27 districts in the state have been affected by JE, including in worst affected Barpeta, Nagaon, Baksa, Darrang, Sonitpur, Nalbari and Bongaigaon.