Bihar orders survey of areas affected by encephalitis

The Bihar government on Tuesday announced a number of measures to combat the outbreak of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in Muzaffarpur and adjoining areas that have killed at least 113 children this year.

A government survey will be undertaken at the Muzaffarpur blocks from where 60-70% of the AES cases have been reported, said Bihar’s chief secretary Deepak Kumar.

“We are still not aware if the disease is caused due to some virus, bacteria, toxin effect due to the consumption of litchi, malnourishment or due to environmental conditions like high temperature and humidity. Several researches have been done…but the finding is inconclusive,” he said.

He said the government would ask health workers, including anganwadi sevikas, to undertake a survey on the socio-economic profile of the affected people as well as environmental conditions in areas where outbreaks have been reported.

In order to meet the shortage of doctors at the paediatric department, the health department has deputed eight senior doctors — two each from the Patna Medical College Hospital (PMCH) and the Nalanda Medical College Hospital (NMCH), and four from the Darbhanga Medical College Hospital (DMCH). They have been asked to report to the SKMC.

Muzaffarpur’s SKMCH, which has been the epicentre of the treatment of AES deaths in Bihar, will be upgraded from 610 to a 2,500-bed hospital.

Meanwhile, the Congress hit out at Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan over the AES outbreak.

“In 2014, 139 children were killed in Muzaffarpur. In 2019, 104 children killed in Muzaffarpur. Same minister, Shri Harsh Vardhan, same reasons, same promises, no work, all talk,” Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in a tweet.

Vardhan, for his part, decided to constitute a permanent multi-disciplinary group of experts at the Centre to monitor and formulate measures to be taken up in the event of such an outbreak.

The central group will comprise experts from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), World Health Organisation (WHO), Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Women and Child Development along with experts of meteorology, nutrition and agricultural science.

Vardhan also chaired a meeting of experts who deliberated upon the factors causing high child mortality in the reported acute encephalitis syndrome/Japanese Encephalitis (AES/JE) cases in Muzaffarpur.

(With agency inputs)

First Published:
Jun 18, 2019 23:58 IST

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