AES cases on rise, govt fast-tracks procurement of ventilators

19 Sep
Lucknow Even as the health directorate struggles to control the rising number of cases of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Uttar Pradesh, the state government is planning to procure four special ventilators for the neo-natal unit of Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College, Gorakhpur, under National Rural Health Mission.The ventilators will be specifically used to cater to AES-affected children with body weight below 5 kg.

A proposal for the purchase of the four ventilators has been sent to the Government of India. Earlier this week, the proposal for the purchase was sent by the Medical Education Directorate and approved by Chief Secretary Anoop Mishra. Each ventilator costs approximately Rs 25 lakh.

“We received a proposal from the medical directorate for the purchase of four ventilators under NRHM. Seeing the urgency of the matter, we presented the proposal for purchase, costing around Rs 1 crore, to the chief secretary, who cleared the proposal within two days,” said Lokesh Kumar, Mission Director, NRHM. “We are now forwarding the proposal to the central government for approval. The funds for the purchase will come under NRHM.”

Explaining the need for the ventilators, Dr K P Kushwaha, head of the pediatric department of BRD Medical College, said: “We get hundreds of children every year who are malnourished and have body weight of less than 5 kg. Though we already have 21 ventilators in the pediatric unit, they cannot be used for such low-weight babies.”

He also explained that normal-size ventilators have a tidal volume of 40 millilitre to one litre, which cannot be used for the lungs of a child weighing less than 5 kg, for whom ventilators with tidal volume of 5 millilitre to 30 millilitre is required. In AES, respiratory failure is the most common cause of death and if ventilators are provided, 50 to 60 per cent of the patients can be saved, said Kushwaha.

Cases of AES have been increasing in the state. According to the latest figures from the Health Directorate, as many as 1,864 cases have been reported from Uttar Pradesh so far, with 262 deaths. With 221 cases reported from Bihar and six others from Nepal, the total number of AES cases this year has reached 2091, while deaths have crossed 300.

Of the total cases in UP, 126 cases and 12 deaths are due to Japanese Encephalitis. However, said Kushwaha, the number of JE cases this year are low compared to last year, when around 12 per cent of the total AES cases were of JE. “This year till now, the JE cases are merely 6 to 7 per cent of the total AES cases,” he said.

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