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Friday 3 July 2020

Bihar AES death toll reaches 167; administration helpless

Muzaffarpur is the most affected district of Bihar with the viral/bacterial disease claiming the lives of as many as 129 children in the town

Patna: The number of children who died of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) has risen to 167 till Sunday morning. The situation is grim across Bihar.

Muzaffarpur is the most affected district of Bihar with the viral/bacterial disease taking the lives of as many as 129 children. A total of 109 children died in Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) while in Kejriwal hospital stands at 20. The rest of the deaths have been reported from other parts of the State.

Six children have lost their lives in Begusarai district, five in Samastipur, two each in Motihari, Patna and Bettiah and one each in Bhagalpur and Gopalganj.

The tragedy struck at the beginning of June, leading to panic in the area and furore across the country.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had visited Muzaffarpur last Sunday (16 June), two days before Chief Minister Nitish Kumar toured the district. He held a meeting with officials to review the situation. The state health department has deputed additional medical officers, child specialists, and nurses from other districts to Muzaffarpur to help the health officials in the district. But the situation shows little improvement.

The Centre, as well as the State, has taken serious note of the alarming number of deaths caused this year, the highest since 2014.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai announced that all 17 BJP MPs in Bihar will build one Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) each in their districts. He also took the responsibility of getting PICU constructed in Samastipur district. On 19 June, the minister of state released Rs 25 lakh from the Members of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund for the construction of the PICUs.

Many families from Harivanshpur village of the Vaishali district have left their homes in fear of AES. Most families have moved their children to other regions after the outbreak of the AES disease, which has now acquired proportions of an epidemic.

Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar had announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 4 lakh per family that lost their children to AES. He had also urged the doctors and the officers to take important decisions to fight the disease.

However, the rise of the casualty figures by nearly 40 children in roughly a week suggests none of the measures the Bihar administration has taken is working.

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