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$800 mn for tackling encephalitis in India

Oct 19, 2012

Indian Union Cabinet has approved a Rs 4,000 crores (or US $ 800 million) plan for a multi-pronged strategy to control Japanese Encephalitis.

India's highest executive decision making authority, the Union Cabinet, has approved a proposal for a comprehensive multi pronged strategy for the prevention and control of Japanese Encephalitis and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome. The expenditures for implementing the elaborate plan is Rs 4,000 crores.

The proposal of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for the implementation of the intervention/activities recommended by the Group of Ministers for prevention and control of Japanese Encephalitis and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome will be implemented in 60 priority districts for a period of five years beginning this year.

The Union Cabinet meeting chaired by the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh approved the proposal of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recommended by the Group of Ministers.

The plan will involve a number of government departments and ministries like the Ministries of Health and Family Welfare, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Social Justice and Empowerment, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Women and Child Development.

Focussed interventions will be done in the states of Assam, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, known as endemic to the disease.

Hundreds of children have died this year of the disease. The Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh, considered an Japanese Encephalitis hot-spot has seen over 400 child deaths due to the disease.

The major activities of the programme include public health interventions, expansion of vaccination, improved case management, medical and social rehabilitation, improved provisions of drinking water and sanitation in rural and urban areas and improved nutrition.

The implementation of the proposal will substantially reduce the cases of Japanese Encephalitis through strengthening of vaccination and vector control. It will also reduce Acute Encephalitis Syndrome cases by checking the transmission of virus in children through the supply of safe drinking water and enhanced nutritional status of children, sources at the Health Ministry said. There is optimism that this will also reduce burden of disabilities due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in young children.

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