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Pardaphash Exclusive: Caste do play a part in UP, even in Encephalitis Cases

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Lucknow: With the number of encephalitis cases on the increase in UP, recent study has come to the conclusion that there is a caste factor attached to it as well.

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Yes, you heard it right. According to the study, 60 per cent of the affected children belong to the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category and 28 per cent belonged to the Scheduled Caste (SC) category.

Pardaphash has learned that the Health Department in a presentation to Uttar Pradesh’s top government officials stated that apart from gap in health infrastructure and human resource, there is also a caste gap afflicting patients for years.

In a study conducted on 1,741 families affected with encephalitis, implemented by social organisation Path, they found that 62 per cent of the families lied below the poverty line and had agricultural background.

According to the health experts, taking into consideration the caste and social factors is vital in eliminating encephalitis from several parts of UP, more so when it comes to Gorakhpur.

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The pivotal factor here is that another data by National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme and BRD Medical College clearly highlights that one in four encephalitis cases in India were from Gorakhpur. It also stated that 40 per cent of encephalitis death reported in the country took place in BRD Medical College.

KS Jacob, a health policies commentator and analyst, is of the view that as per surveys conducted by the National Family Health Survey, there is a gap between healthcare conditions of the SCs, STs(Scheduled Tribes) and OBCs. According to him, since caste is interlinked with socio-economic status in India, it is a major factor in health situation.

People belonging to the lower castes have minimal access to clean water, sanitation, healthcare, housing, nutrition and so on because of ineffective policies and programmes, unfair economic system and ‘bad politics’, Jacob said.

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