Pediatrician Dr. K.P. Kushwaha, who campaigned for use of vaccination to prevent Japanese encephalitis, has been tapped by CM Adityanath.
Gorakhpur: A former principal of Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College, who actively campaigned for the use of vaccination to prevent Japanese encephalitis (JE), is likely to return to head the medical facility in the eye of a storm over a spate of deaths of children in recent days.
Dr. K.P. Kushwaha, who was also head of the pediatrics department of BRD Medical College before retiring in 2015 and starting private practice, has been tapped by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, top sources told ThePrint.
“Yes, maharaj-ji had called me and we discussed the current medical situation of the state,” Kushwaha told this reporter, referring to the chief minister who has been Gorakhpur MP since 1998 and also head priest of the local Gorakhnath Math. But he refused to confirm or deny his return to his former job at BRD Medical College.
The Uttar Pradesh government suspended previous principal Dr. R.K. Mishra on 12 August after reports of disruption in oxygen supply to the hospital following a payment delay was blamed for the death of more than two dozen children late last week. Mishra, a pathologist, however, has said he had resigned before being suspended.
The state government has denied the disruption in oxygen supply caused the deaths and said the children succumbed to different medical conditions including JE which is highly endemic in the region.
Sources said the chief minister was looking for a new head for the medical college and had personally called Kushwaha and asked him to take charge.
Kushwaha has actively campaigned for the use of vaccination as a tool to prevent JE and has been involved with treating patients since its first outbreak in Gorakhpur in 1978.
JE is a mosquito-borne viral infection of the brain which has no cure. It is highly prevalent in 18 districts in eastern UP, some districts of Bihar and the border areas of Nepal. It is also found in other pockets of India.
The UP government has launched a vaccination drive to prevent JE although the efficacy of the vaccine is reported to be about 85 per cent.
As principal of BRDMC, Kushwaha had in 2014 urged the union health ministry to open a Regional Medical Resource Centre on the campus and had even made a presentation. About 30,000 sq ft of college land had also been allotted for the project before his retirement in 2015.
But the project did not take off. The latest tragedy has seen the project being revived with union health minister J.P. Nadda announcing a budget of Rs 85 crore for the centre following a visit to BRD Medical College.
The government has also decided to intensify vaccination drives in the region to prevent JE. “There has been a remarkable decline in new cases of JE post vaccination,” Kushwaha told ThePrint.
As for the current crisis, Kushwaha said the biggest problem was doctors and hospitals tend to hide the actual number of cases. “They think action would be taken against them if they show actual numbers. But the real data would make the government more sensitive towards the issue,” he said.
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