Is a central govt agency manipulating encephalitis-related death data from UP?

Five children put at Neonatal warmers at BRD Medical College in August 2017, the middle neonate has passed away (Photo -

By Siddhant Mohan,

Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, claimed in the last week of August that the state government had succeeded in considerably reducing the number of deaths due to encephalitis in the state. Yogi’s claim—which was not supported by any concrete data—was endorsed by many lawmakers and even several media outlets went ahead to report the same claim without any verification.

Support TwoCircles

However, the reason behind Adityanath’s strange claim lies in the data released by the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP). In the data released earlier this month, NVBDCP miraculously reduced the number of deaths until the end of the August.

Until the end of July, NVBDCP reported that the total number of deaths because of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) and Japanese Encephalitis (JE) were 124. Out of this, AES accounted for 118 deaths while JE was responsible for 6 deaths. But when data was released in September, which also included the total number of deaths until the end of August, the total number was strangely reduced to 113. Out of this number, 110 deaths were because of AES while only 3 deaths were said to have been due to JE.

NVBDCP September

NVBDCP has reported that until July 31, UP had 1,299 cases of AES out of which 118 lost their lives. The number of cases pertaining to JE was 75, out of which 6 patients lost their lives. But until August, NVBDCP reported, that UP had 1,545 cases of AES out of which 110 people lost their lives, and 3 patients died out of 90 cases of JE.

The data released by NVBDCP shows that the total deaths this year by August compared to the figures released in July. Even simple calculations prove that the authorities have been playing with the death data and it is possible that such manipulated numbers are the basis of the claims made by Yogi Adityanath and several other politicians.


In August, we released a detailed investigation explaining why and how Baba Raghav Das Medical College, Gorakhpur had stopped providing death figures to anyone in the state. We also reported that detailed death numbers—which were being issued every day until October last year—were handed out to one or two persons, including chief medical officer (CMO) Gorakhpur, in sealed envelopes.

If only the numbers from BRD Medical College would be taken into account, 89 children lost their lives because of encephalitis until the end of July. The number, revealed by our sources at the medical college, was confirmed by CMO Gorakhpur in a detailed meeting last month.

So if only at BRD Medical College 89 deaths were recorded due to encephalitis, there is very less possibility that the whole state would have seen only 118 deaths. What remains unanswered is how the total number of deaths actually decreased in August versus July, making the official report look dubious and faulty.

Gorakhpur has been fighting the outbreak of encephalitis for the past several years. After last year’s August tragedy in which a few dozen children lost their lives because of a critical shortage of oxygen, BRD Medical College has indeed learned some lessons.

The hospital has created a couple of big wards with an increase of around 200 beds. Ganesh Kumar, the Medical College Principal, who is upset with media because of “negative reporting”, claims that the hospital has managed the load so well that the staff is free most of the time. However, many doctors refuted this by saying that authorities still have to do many things to ensure life for children.

We also reported that BRD Medical College was actually not reporting the cases of Japanese Encephalitis to ensure that there would be lesser patients of encephalitis in the records.

In our prolonged reports and investigations, we have managed to produce the number of dead children only, but the death number released by NVBDCP comprise deaths occurred in every age group. So if the number of dead children is 89 at just BRD Medical College, how is the cumulative death number only around 110 for the state?

A senior paediatrician at Lucknow’s King George Medical College told, “The numbers are indeed misleading. If around 90 children died at Gorakhpur medical college only, how is it possible that only 28 deaths occurred in rest of the state?”

He further said, “It clearly shows that central government is suggesting the state authorities in Uttar Pradesh to basically lie about deaths of innocent children.”

When reached out for comments over the misleading numbers, this correspondent did not get any reply from regional centres and officers of NVBDCP.