Malaria, mystery fever in Uttar Pradesh leaves 30 dead in two days; hospitals ill-equipped to tackle crisis

Bhim Manohar | Sep 21, 2018 | 4 min read


By Bhim Manohar and Rahul Yadav

Lucknow: Rural regions of Uttar Pradesh are yet again struggling to prevent their patients from falling prey to seasonal diseases like malaria. Hospitals in Bareilly, Shahjahanpur, Pilibhit and several other districts are under panic as at least 30 people have reportedly died in the last 48 hours due to plasmodium falciparum (PF) fever that causes malaria.

According to the official figures sourced from the chief medical officers of different districts, the threat from these diseases seems to be the worst in Badaun with 17 deaths reported from different areas of the district. At least five people died in Shahjahanpur, seven in Bareilly and one in Pilibhit. Hospitals in these districts are filled with patients reporting high fever.

Earlier this week, UP health minister Siddharth Nath Singh had suspended district officials, including additional director for health, Bareilly, S K Agarwal, and malaria officer Pankaj Jain due to the rising number of deaths in Bareilly.

Responding on the seriousness of the issue, Uttar Pradesh Director General for Health, Dr Padmakar Singh said in Bareilly that three teams of doctors with expertise in malaria have been formed to look into the matter of deaths across the state.

“The department is concerned for the health of every single person. We are distributing medicines, fogging and spraying of larvicides in all the districts. Whatever has happened is very unfortunate and we are doing our best to contain the situation,” Singh told mediapersons in Bareilly.

District magistrate, Bareilly, Virendra Kumar Singh, informed that following the health minister’s visit to the district, 95 teams of doctors and health workers have been formed to conduct malaria-control drives in villages. These teams have covered 82 villages so far, he said.  

“At present, 1,423 patients are being treated at the district hospital and the numbers will definitely go down in the coming days as ANM and ASHA workers are distributing malaria medicines at the doorstep after checking people with the RDT kit. There are sufficient number of kits with the district hospital and adequate arrangements have been made to keep cleanliness in the district,” Singh said.  

Meanwhile, in Bahraich, around 280 km from Bareilly, more than 70 children have breathed their last at the district hospital in the last 45 days. Bahraich Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr A K Pandey said the deaths have been primarily caused due to medical asphyxia, pneumonia and brain fever, among other reasons. Denying that the deaths are related to any particular ailment, Pandey said that the hospital is full to its capacity as the influx of patients is almost thrice as much as it was last year. “We have only 200 beds in our hospital, but are treating more than 400 kids, not just from Bahraich, but also from Balrampur, Shravasti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Gonda and other neighboring districts,” he said.

Cornering the state government over the widespread fever, Samajwadi Party (SP) spokesperson Abdul Hafiz Gandhi said the UP government has its eye only on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and is not concerned about the welfare of the people. “Hundreds of children have died but the BJP-led UP government and its ministers are busy in organizing caste sammelans.”

Gandhi said the state government must be concerned about the health of the people, particularly children. The BJP government has not learnt any lessons after deaths of hundreds of children at the BRD Hospital in Gorakhpur, and as a result it is found ill-prepared whenever such emergent situation arises, he said.

“Samajwadi Party wants the government to do its best to save the precious lives of children from mysterious diseases in some districts of UP,” Gandhi demanded.

Dr Ved Prakash Singh, head of ICUs at King George Medical University (KGMU) who has been critical in bringing down the cases of ICU deaths at KGMU, said this is a serious concern, but not to be panicked about, as the cases can be brought down if people take preventive measures.

“Cleanliness is the best way to keep vector-borne diseases away. People should also try to keep their surroundings clean and should only approach a government-run hospital when suffering from fever,” Singh said, hinting at the other unauthorised sources of medical care people turn towards in the region.

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