Every year, some thousands of children of different states of India become victims of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES). AES is an umbrella term for all clinical-neurological manifestations of inflammatory brain diseases caused by wide range of viruses, bacteria, fungus, parasites, spirochetes, chemical and toxins. The disease is mostly affecting children up to an age group of 15 with high mortality rate or leaves them with permanent neuropsychiatric disabilities.
Gorakhpur of Uttar Pradesh and its surrounding areas are one of the worst affected zones by AES every year. It is strongly believed that AES is significantly linked with enteroviruses in this zone because of contaminated water, improper sanitation and unhygienic habitation; but the exact aetiology is not identified in most of the cases. Monsoon makes this condition more vulnerable every year.
Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College & Nehru Hospital in Gorakhpur alone gets more than thousand of AES cases every year and witnesses nearly 700 child deaths in every monsoon. It is the only medical institute with a dedicated epidemic ward that caters the endemic victims of 19 districts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and also bordering areas of Nepal.
"Monsoon of Death" is an "incomplete" long-term visual reportage project on one of the most ignored and underreported hyper-endemic medical emergency of post-independent India that has claimed nearly 10,000 innocent lives only in Uttar Pradesh since 1978.
[Year of documentation: 2013; Status - Incomplete]
Prof. (Dr.) K. P. Kushwaha
Dr. Safi Ahmed