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Malda hospital lacks JE test kits
Two patients told to go to private clinics or Calcutta

Malda, July 28: The Malda Medical College and Hospital doesn’t have a single Japanese Encephalitis test kit because of which patients have been either been told to go to Calcutta or private clinics.

Sources said the JE test kits available with the medical college had expired around 45 days back and since then, two patients with symptoms of the disease had been admitted.

The two were admitted on July 26 but were told to get their tests done elsewhere. According to medical college officials, 100 test kits had been purchased in 2013 but by the time the first deaths were reported in north Bengal, the kits were past their expiry date.

The vice-principal of the medical college, M.A. Rashid, said 100 Japanese Encephalitis test kits would be brought from Calcutta tomorrow.

Talking to The Telegraph over the phone from Calcutta, he said: “We don’t have the kits required to conduct JE tests on blood samples. We will reach Malda with at least 100 kits tomorrow.”

Sources said Sudam Choudhury, a youth from Agraharishchandrapur under Habibpur block of the district, had been admitted to the medical college with “fever and had other symptoms of JE”.

Since the hospital did not have the kits, “he was told to go to Calcutta the next day”, a source said.

Manoj Kumar Ram was the other patient with symptoms of the viral attack who couldn’t be examined at the medical college because of the lack of kits.

“Manoj was admitted to the medical college on July 26 with fever, headache and body pain. Doctors prescribed certain blood tests for which we had to spend some money. We were told yesterday that his blood sample should be tested for Japanese Encephalitis,” said Manoj’s brother Ratan.

The family said they didn’t have money for the test at any private hospital. They got Manoj discharged from the medical college.

“Doctors said the test couldn’t be done at the medical college and we would have to go to a private hospital. We learnt that it would cost Rs 4,800 to get the Japanese Encephalitis test done at a private hospital. We don’t have so much money and got my brother discharged yesterday. He is still suffering from fever but we have no other alternative as we cannot arrange for so much money,” Ratan added.

Manoj is a resident of Bhaluka under Harishchandrapur block.

Rashid, who is also the superintendent of the medical college, said not a single Japanese Encephalitis case had been detected in Malda district this year so far.

“Back in 2013, two persons had died from the viral attack. However, we are alert. Its unfortunate that a youth was taken away (from the hospital) by his family members though he has symptoms of Japanese Encephalitis. We will try to locate him and get his blood examined. A five-bed unit for encephalitis patients has been opened at the medical college,” he said.

Krishnendu Narayan Choudhury, the state horticulture minister and chairman of the patient welfare committee at the medical college, also confirmed the shortage of test kits.

“In the current year, not a single person has died in Malda district because of encephalitis. Even then, we are not taking any chance and bringing in fresh test kits. The existing kits passed the expiry date and doctors had no other way but to send the patients to Calcutta,” he said.