‘How many wickets down?’: Bihar Health Min asks during meet on encephalitis

Cheryl Sanders
June 18, 2019

Nitish Kumar, accompanied by deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, visited the state-run Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH), where they met children undergoing treatment and also their parents, a district health official said.

A team of doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) is likely to visit Muzaffarpur on Tuesday to monitor the treatment of children hospitalised with AES.

Indian health minister Harsh Vardhan said: "The government will leave no stone unturned to contain it at the earliest".

"Though there is no official figure on this yet, but, yes not less than 90 people have died in these districts in last four days due to intense heatwave", said a health department official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

As per reports, about 76 children have died in Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, and 17 others have been reported dead from the Kejriwal Matrisadan so far. The chief minister will hold a review meeting with doctors and health officials later in the day to take stock of the situation.

Meanwhile, SKMCH and Kejriwal Hospital in the city continue to receive fresh cases with symptoms akin to AES.

A deadly outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in Bihar has killed 126 children, with 107 deaths reported from Muzzaffarpur and its surrounding districts.

The response is expected within four weeks, the NHRC said, adding that deaths of children in such large numbers despite reported measure by government agencies could indicate a "possible flaw" in proper implementation of vaccination and awareness programmes.

Union minister Harsh Vardhan Monday issued directions for immediately sending another high-level team to Bihar's Muzaffarpur to set up a state-of-the-art multi-disciplinary research centre in the wake of deaths due to suspected encephalitis.

Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey said: "We are trying everything and anything that can save children's lives". But the incidence is also reported during April-June in Bihar.

In response to the outbreak the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) yesterday sent notices to the Union Health Ministry and the Bihar government.

Encephalitis is a viral disease, which causes mild flu-like symptoms like high fever, convulsions, and headache.

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome is a severe case of encephalitis transmitted by mosquitoes. It is characterised by high fever and inflammation of the brain. In Bihar, AES outbreaks are a routine in summer in areas in and around flood-prone districts in the state, where the disease is locally known as Chamki Bukhar or Mastishk Bukhar. Two children lost their lives due to AES in Motihari and Patna while five kids succumbed to the infection in Samastipur.

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