| A Japanese encephalitis patient at GMCH. (PTI) |
Jorhat, Aug. 6: The Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) — the largest and oldest tea workers’ union in the state — will launch an awareness drive on Saturday in the tea gardens by involving women workers to prevent outbreak of Japanese encephalitis (JE) and acute encephalitis syndrome (AES).
Two weeks ago, the labour department had asked tea gardens to be alert to prevent the spread of the two mosquito-borne diseases.
The labour department in its directive to five tea plantation associations (gardens across the state are members of any one of these organisations) had urged them to inform their member-gardens to take effective steps to prevent outbreak of the diseases.
Till August 6, the total number of acute encephalitis syndrome cases in the state 1,567 while the total number of positive cases of Japanese encephalitis is 606.
While acute encephalitic syndrome has claimed 266 lives in the state, 122 people have died of Japanese encephalitis, Dr B.C. Bhagawati, state surveillance officer of the health department said this evening.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi last week directed senior officials of the state health department to take all necessary measures to ensure that adequate stock of medicines — required for treatment of patients affected by JE and AES — are available in all hospitals across the state. He had also asked them to make requirements of medicines as well as vaccines known to the Centre so that the epidemic can be tackled in an effective manner.
In an attempt to contain further spread of the disease that had already gained epidemic proportions in the state, the health department is planning to conduct vaccinations in nine lower Assam districts soon.
Children up to 14 years are being administered Japanese encephalitis vaccines during routine immunisation programmes conducted by the state health department in 14 districts.
More cases of Japanese encephalitis and acute encephalitis syndrome have been recorded in several lower Assam districts this year. Earlier, infections were mostly confined to the Upper Assam districts where adult vaccination had been carried out in the last two years.
An ACMS central committee member and secretary of Titabar unit of the union, Nagen Kurmi, told this correspondent that on August 9 — Foundation Day of ACMS — all 22 branches of ACMS spread across the state would organise awareness meetings on preventive steps to be taken against outbreak of the two diseases.
Kurmi said office-bearers along with two women workers of all tea gardens under the respective district/subdivision branches would attend the meeting. He said medical inspectors of the labour department along with doctors and health department staff would provide tips to the members attending the meeting.
The ACMS leader said after attending the meeting, the members will inform their fellow workers informally and also hold brief meetings after work or on Sundays in their respective estates.
He said by involving women workers hopefully the awareness campaign will be more effective as a large number of women work together in the gardens and information is easily passed on.
The labour department had earlier advised garden managements to organise awareness meetings, provide potable water and maintain proper sanitation. It asked the gardens to test samples of drinking water supplied to workers for bacteriological and chemical analysis at government-approved laboratories at the earliest and continue the practice at periodical intervals, preferably monthly.
In Arunachal Pradesh, the health department and the district administration in Changlang district have taken all steps to contain japanese encephalitis which has so far claimed two lives in the state.
The victims were identified as a 17-year-old girl who died on July 30 and a 10-year-old girl who died on July 24, officials said.
The district medical officer is carrying out awareness campaigns on the diseases and conducting fogging in vulnerable areas of the district especially in the piggeries.