Bihar government to pick treatment tab for encephalitis patients

Chairing a high-level meeting to take stock of the mounting death toll in wake of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) and heat wave in the state, chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday announced that the government would bear the cost of treatment of encephalitis-affected patients and also reimburse transport charges incurred in ferrying patients referred by primary health centres (PHCs).

Facing Opposition flak, the chief minister convened a review meeting of health, disaster and education departments after his arrival to the state capital from Delhi. He ordered immediate activation of PHCs to meet the exigency where children suffering from AES or suspected Japanese Encephalitis could be admitted on a priority basis and put on saline drip.

Given the fact that the government has already announced an ex gratia payment of Rs 4 lakh for the kin of each victim of suspected AES and those losing their lives in the sweltering heat, Kumar asked officials to constitute a team of experts to study the economic and social conditions of the victim families.

“Their nutrition, hygiene habits and home environment should also be recorded,” said the chief minister.

Briefing media persons after the meeting, chief secretary Deepak Kumar said that the chief minister issued directives to ensure that all schools and coaching institutes remain closed till June 24 in view of the intense heat wave sweeping across the state.

As an additional measure, the meeting also ordered the closure of markets from 11am to 5pm. “During this period, all constructions activities will also remain suspended,” the chief secretary said.

He said that weather scientists had informed that the weather was likely to ease up only after a couple of days and, therefore, the chief minister had asked authorities to ensure adequate water (through tankers) and power supply.

Admitting that AES had claimed 103 lives in Muzaffarpur district and the death figure caused by heat wave has touched 100, he said that the only redeeming feature this time was that the percentage of deaths was lower than before.

“Out of the 440 AES cases reported in Muzaffarpur, 129 have been discharged, 40 are in the process of being discharged and only 111 are currently under treatment,” he said.

A central team, headed by the joint secretary of the union health ministry, is reaching the state on Tuesday to explore the modalities for setting up a virology centre at Muzaffarpur, the AES epicentre.

First Published:
Jun 18, 2019 12:43 IST

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