Sunday, September 25, 2005

Heal the world!

The Dream: a strong healthcare nexus, affordable medication!

so five year olds don't have to die for want of medical attention!

India Encephalitis Deaths Were Preventable

The Associated Press
Friday, September 23, 2005; 8:31 PM

KUSHINAGAR, India -- When Nand Kishore Sharma learns that his 7-year-old daughter could have been saved from her painful death by a $1 vaccine, he just shrugs. People in this remote, impoverished corner of India are used to being overlooked.

The Sharmas are victims of the worst Japanese encephalitis outbreak in recent memory. More than 1,100 people _ most of them children _ have died in India's Uttar Pradesh state and neighboring Nepal.

India's government has promised to immunize every child in the worst-affected areas, but it's too late to save any lives this year.

Hospitals have been overwhelmed by a deluge of sick children who sometimes lie two to a bed, and critics blame the situation on an underfunded medical system and wasteful projects. Uttar Pradesh, where the disease has killed 850 people in the last few months, has a health care budget of $24.2 million for 180 million people _ about 13 cents per person.

"Saving children's lives is not the government's priority," said Dr. T.N. Dhole, head of the microbiology department at the Sanjay Gandhi Post-Graduate Institute in the state capital, Lucknow. "Deaths could have been prevented if the government had taken preventive steps and had inoculated the children."

Japanese encephalitis breaks out every year in eastern Uttar Pradesh, the region's main rice-growing area.

But as images emerge of hundreds of children dying in filthy, understaffed and ill-equipped hospitals, some are asking why.

"It doesn't mean we are not sensitive to what is happening," Singh said. "Our government has ordered free medical help to all Japanese encephalitis children."

"The government is seriously planning," said Rajshankar Ghosh, Japanese encephalitis senior project manager for the U.S.-based nonprofit PATH. "I'm not able to predict, but I'm very, very hopeful."

So am I!


Content sourced from The Washington Post

The Original Article