Over 100 children die of Encephalitis in India

Elias Hubbard
June 19, 2019

Angry protests erupted in one of India's poorest states on Tuesday over the deaths of more than 100 children from a mysterious brain fever potentially linked to lychees.

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 Chief Secy Deepak Kumar said that the doctors are carrying out their duties but the chief minister has ordered to bring some doctors from Dharbhanga Medical College and Hospital and Patna Medical College and Hospital in order to help them.

"Bihar's Health Minister Mangal Pandey seems more anxious about cricket score than the death of children", tweeted Randeep Surjewala of the opposition Congress party. The Chief Minister also held a review meeting with the doctors and health officials to take stock of the situation.

The petition stated that the disease is completely curable and that most of the deaths are occurring due to lack of medical facilities. It is also reported that, apart from Muzaffarpur, some other districts of the state have also been affected.

"This acute encephalitis syndrome has been recurring in Bihar and the government has not taken any steps".

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. The districts will be decided in consultation with the state government and can be funded through the National Health Mission (NHM), he said.

The Commission also wanted to know about the status of the treatment being provided to the now hospitalised children and the relief provided by the state to the aggrieved families.

The Commission has observed that in spite of reported measures taken by the government agencies, deaths of children in such a large number point to possible flaws in the implementation of the vaccination and awareness programmes. The party said better preparedness could have saved lives. Sometime back, Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh suffered a lot due to Japanese Encephalitis when about 60 children lost their lives. "Senior officers of the Union Health Ministry are in regular communication with the state government and providing all needed technical and other support", Vardhan said.

The death toll in AES cases in Bihar has climbed to 106 with both the SKMCH hospital and the privately owned Kejriwal hospital in the state reporting one casualty during the night, officials said.

Emphasizing the need for early detection and treatment of hypoglycemia cases, Harsh Vardhan said that a dedicated team of doctors should be placed in public health centres (PHC) for three to four months before and during the onset of the disease.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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