The public health challenges that Odisha had to deal with through out 2014 have exposed flaws in the state health-care system.
Jaundice, dengue, cholera and encephalitis took a heavy toll on the people across the state. The jaundice or Hepatitis E outbreak has persisted in Sambalpur city since mid-2014. The disease took an acute shape in the later part of the year.
AdvertisementJaundice has so far claimed 17 lives (unofficial sources put the number at over 30), and affected more than 1700 people.
While the state government has claimed that everything is slowly getting under control, the fact is that the disease was let to spiral, since the outbreak was first noticed around June. This has raised concerns on the efficacy of the preventive or surveillance mechanisms.
The Sambalpur outbreak was caused by drinking water contamination due to the decades old pipeline system in the city. Delayed action towards repairing the pipelines and sensitising people led the outbreak to almost an epidemic situation.
The Sambalpur incident has also put the glare on most of the other cities in the state. Cities like Bhubaneswar, Berhampur and Cuttack are also managing with pipelines, which have not been changed for several decades.
Sporadic viral hepatitis outbreaks have become annual affairs in other cities, which can also take Sambalpur-like shape or even worse.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has offered `160 crore for repairing the drinking water supply system in Sambalpur. Similar grants are needed in all other cities and should be executed immediatly.
Meanwhile, a three-member union government health team visited Sambalpur on Friday to find out the cause of the outbreak of jaundice in the city.
The Central team included Dr P Verma, Dr Vidya Arankalle and Dr Manju. They discussed the issues with the District Collector Balwant Singh, Health department Deputy Director Bikash Patnaik and Chief District Medical Officer Jagatkrushna Samant Ray.
They also collected information about the jaundice outbreak and visited the water treatment plant of the city.