Muzaffarpur: Acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in Bihar has so far claimed the lives of 129 children, out of which 108 have died in Muzaffarpur. While the outbreak was reported about a week ago, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar could finally spare some time to visit the hospital where most children have lost their lives.
When the chief minister arrived at the hospital, he was fiercely opposed. People standing outside raised the slogan Nitish, go back.
A PIL has been filed against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over the death of children in Muzaffarpur due to AES. The case will be heard on 26 June.
While the government is claiming it is taking necessary action, the number of sick children admitted in hospitals has increased to 414. Most patients suffering from spasmodic fever are admitted to the government-run Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) and Kejriwal Hospital, Muzaffarpur.
So far, 89 children at the SKMCH Hospital and 19 children at the Kejriwal Hospital have died.
A case has been registered against Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey for not taking action before the outbreak of the disease.
NHRC seeks report on AES deaths
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has served the Centre and the State Government notices on the death of children. The commission has issued a notice to the Union Health Ministry and one to the Bihar government on Monday to file a report on the increasing number of children due to encephalitis virus in Muzaffarpur district.
The NHRC said on Monday that the number of children who died of AES has increased to more than 100. It said other districts of the State were affected by the disease, too. The commission has sought a status report on the steps taken for the prevention of encephalitis and spasmodic fever. The NHRC has asked for a response within four weeks.
Nitish convenes high-level meeting
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday held a high-level meeting on what looks like a pandemic in Bihar. After this, chief secretary Deepak Kumar said the government had decided that his team would visit every house where children have died due to this disease. The team will try to know the background of the disease, as the government has so far been unable to figure out what causes the disease. Experts say the outbreak owes to the litchi virus, but there are many victims who never consumed litchi.
12 districts of Bihar affected
It was decided in the meeting of Nitish Kumar that free ambulances would be provided to the children affected by Chamki fever. The government will bear the entire treatment cost.
The families of those who died of the disease will get a compensation of Rs 4 lakh. Sanjay Kumar, principal secretary, health department, said that 222 blocks of 12 districts of Bihar were affected by AES. But 75% of these cases are in Muzaffarpur.
Former Union minister Upendra Singh Kushwaha had visited the hospital on Monday. He said that even five years ago, the Union health minister had announced the institution of an inquiry and the construction of a unit of 100 bed super speciality hospital. In 2014, 379 children had died of the disease.