As Assam struggles to vaccinate all adults to contain the spread of the deadly Japanese Encephalitis which killed 154 people this year, the highest since 2014, state government said complete adult vaccination may take another year because of a big supply gap. The Government of India has refused to provide vaccines for adults, a senior minister said on Wednesday.

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Japanese Encephalitis killed 154 people this year, the highest since 2014. (Parwaz Khan /HT PHOTO)

Next year it will be more difficult,” Himanta Biswa Sarma, state’s cabinet minister for health and family welfare, finance, and PWD said on Wednesday answering a query on the status of the adult vaccination programme of the state government.

They are starting universal child immunization programme. They said this year they need more vaccines because they want to expand to Bengal, Bihar, UP for child immunization. That is why Government of India has expressed its inability to provide us vaccines for adult vaccination,” Sarma said adding that the Government of India will continue to provide vaccines for the routine child immunization in the state.

Samir Sinha, Principal Secretary, who is also in-charge of Health and Family Welfare had earlier said that 80% of the JE deaths were adults and adult vaccination is the way to control it.

Sinha, on Wednesday explained that 25 million vaccines are needed to cover the 15-65 year category and the state government has floated a tender to procure the vaccines which will be finalized next month.

We have floated the tender and all the three companies combined have said they can only supply 25 lakh vaccines as against a demand of 2.5 crore. They said that only in July 2020 they will be able to give us all the two crore… Complete vaccination we can only do in 2020 August because the vaccine has to come from China,” Sarma said.

In 2015, in Assam the number of deaths due to JE stood at 135, in 2016 the number came down to 92 and further decreased to 87 in 2017. In 2018 the state saw 94 deaths due to the vector borne disease which is spread by the culex mosquito. In 2014, the state recorded 165 deaths due to Japanese Encephalitis.

Sarma explained how, for another year “we have to fight JE in a more conservative way through treatment” as he announced that Japanese Encephalitis and Acute Encephalitis cases will also be covered under the state’s Atal Amrit Abhiyan, a cashless healthcare scheme which provides up to Rs 2,00,000 for treatment.

Sarma announced on Wednesday that the scheme has been expanded to also cover patients in intensive care, trauma , critical care pediatrics and pediatrics surgery and bone marrow transplant.

Sarma said 60,000 patients which includes over 27,000 cancer patients have benefited under the scheme.

Source from HT media