The Japanese encephalitis was first discovered in 1870 in Japan. Since then, we have found that, as per WHO reports, there are 50000 to 65000 deaths annually. In 1951 it was discovered in India, in Tamil Nadu but by 1972 this virus had spread to West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. It is mainly found in those areas where paddy is cultivated, where water logging takes place due to floods as well as in places where pigs, mosquitoes and birds exist in large numbers because they act as transmitters and vectors.
These factors are available in plenty in the State of Assam. Assam has borne the brunt of Japanese encephalitis and acute encephalitis syndrome. This year itself, there have been more than 300 lives lost due to Japanese encephalitis and around 2000 people have been affected. The Government of Assam has taken this on a war-footing basis. It has set up ICUs in key districts with dedicated beds. It has done intensive fogging. It has imported laboratory testing kits from the National Institute of Virology, Pune. In the Minister’s reply itself, the Minister has stated that the steps that the Assam Government has taken in the area of immunization of adults have been proven beneficial.
Sir, we must remind the hon. House that the UPA Government, the Congress Government has given due concern to this disease and acute syndrome which is affecting so many lives. May I remind this House that it was the UPA Government which introduced India’s first indigenous vaccine against Japanese encephalitis in 2013? At that point of time, our Health Minister, Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “This is an Indian solution to an Indian problem.” The hon. Member, Shri Rajiv Pratap Rudy has said that prior to the indigenous vaccine, we used to import our vaccine from China. May I again remind this House that we started distributing that vaccine from China in 2006? It was again in UPA’s tenure and yet the Members of this august House think that we are insensitive and they are questioning our sensitivity towards children. We are extremely sensitive towards them.
But today the Calling Attention discussion has been converted into a discussion under rule 193. There are many other issues such as the safety and security of North-East citizens in Delhi on which our Party has given notice for discussion under Rule 193. They are not given the due attention because of the procedure that is followed today.
Sir, this Government talks about being sensitive. The highest number of deaths has taken place in Assam and the highest number of lives been affected by it is in Assam, yet the Minister has not visited Assam even once. We have requested the Union Government to set up a medical institute like AIIMS in Assam in my home district of Golaghat. They can set up more medical units in the affected districts of Jorhat and Sonitpur. May I ask the hon. Minister as to why diagnostic kits are only being manufactured in the National Institute of Virology, Pune? Why do we spend so much time in importing those units from there? Why cannot we set up regional centres so that all these regional centres can set up their own diagnostic units? Why does this Government not incentivise and encourage private manufacturers to set up their own diagnostic units?
Sir, we beg the hon. Minister to set up a national web-based surveillance and management system. There is a National Centre for Disease Control, which has only been mentioned in the Minister’s reply. But, what the status of surveillance is and how the Centre is coordinating with the response of various State Governments has not been cleared. We want that regional NIV institutes and regional ICMRs should be set up.
Sir, thank you very much for the time but we must remind this august House that health and education are the two pillars on which a great society has been built and yet it is unfortunate that in the Union Budget of 2014-15, hardly 1.5 per cent of GDP allocation has been given to health. This is injustice to our current generation; this is injustice to our future generation; this is injustice to the dreams and aspirations with which the people voted for this Government.
Thank you very much.
SHRI GAURAV GOGOI: Mr. Chairman, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak. I would like to draw the attention of the House to the Kaziranga National Park which falls in my constituency, Koliabor, and is a world heritage site.
Sir, the one-horned rhinoceros found in Kaziranga is the biggest star attraction in Assam. Earlier in the 1970s, their population had dwindled to below 100, but due to conservation efforts of the Assam Government, their population has increased to 2,500 in 2013. But since 2008, Assam has again been caught in a web of increased poaching of rhinos. Since 2008, 120 rhinos in Assam have been poached, primarily because of their horns which in the international market can fetch a person up to Rs. 16,500 per gram.
Popular research and media reports say that most of these horns are sold in Vietnam. I urge upon the Government of India to take steps both at the national and international levels. The Government of Assam has already strengthened the Wildlife Protection Act and has issued shoot-at-sight orders as well as life imprisonment for poachers. At the national level, the Union Government, specifically the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Ministry of Home Affairs, can set up a Project Rhino similar to Project Elephant and Project Tiger in which there can be a Central Intelligence Unit, a database of all rhinoceros as well as fast track wildlife courts.
I would also urge upon the Ministry of External Affairs to protect our national inheritance, the rhinoceros, and urge upon the Government in Vietnam to have a complete ban on all products made out of rhino horns.
Thank you very much.