DIBRUGARH, June 29 - In a major blot to the integrity of the Lahowal-based Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC), which is considered to be one of the most highly-equipped scientific research centres of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a recent forecast (early warning) of RMRC on potential Japanese Encephalitis (JE) in the district, has been rejected and termed erroneous by Dr Udayan Baruah, the Joint Director of Health Services here.
Addressing media persons at the office of the Deputy Commissioner here, Dr Baruah said that as per the forecast report of RMRC some 140 villages have been declared to be on high alert. �If their report had been correct, there should have been 15 to 20 JE cases in those villages. But only two cases have been reported from the mentioned areas and the rest of the cases have come from areas not mentioned in their report. We cannot accept such an erroneous report,� said Dr Baruah.
When asked how medical scientists could come up with a flawed forecast report, the Joint Director said that ICMR has to produce a report because they get funds in crores. They may be medical scientists but how can we say their forecast is correct when our findings on the ground differ, he asked.
It must be mentioned that as per the prediction model (collaborative work between ICMR- RMRC, NER, Dibrugarh and North Eastern-Space Applications Centre (NE-SAC)-ISRO, Umiam, Meghalaya, the villages at risk for occurrence of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) during the year 2018 were grouped in three categories Public Health Centre wise.
As per the forecast released by RMRC in the month of April, the total number of villages in �high risk� category stood at 143 (Borboruah-39, Khowang-44, Lahoal-2, Naharani-52, Panitola-2 and Tengakhat-4). Some 497 villages (Borboruah-70, Khowang-122, Lahoal-53, Naharani-247, Panitola-5 and Tengakhat-0) were marked �medium risk�. The low risk villages came around 515 (Borboruah-57, Khowang-68, Lahoal-60, Naharani-67, Panitola-101 and Tengakhat-162).
As per the report of the Joint Director of Health Services, in the current year five deaths were reported from the district from among 35 JE cases, of which only four cases were confirmed. Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) accounted for 84, of which 13 died.
While the RMRC appreciates that till date fewer cases have been reported from the high-risk forecast villages of the district, attributing it to the commendable efforts put by the Directorate of Health Services, but the Joint Director had a totally hostile view on the forecast. �They had made similar forecasts last year too but we were not convinced. If they misguide the health officials, we cannot work efficiently,� he said.
Moreover, the district health official said that there is discrepancy in identifying JE cases and AES cases. �The analyses of tests are not done in medical college. Serum positive case is described as JE + but serum positive case cannot confirm JE +. Cerebrospinal fluid has to be analysed. If this is not done and serum positive case is taken as JE, how will you accept that? The patient even after being cured will communicate to others in the village that he/she had JE. This kind of report will only create a panicky situation among people. The medical college does not send cases for examination to RMRC because they have some ego problem. I will ask the Superintendent of the AMCH to send the cases for analyses and confirmation to RMRC, because the centre has to confirm and give a correct report,� said the Joint Director.