The death toll of children due to viral infection Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) reached 89 in Bihar on Saturday evening. Muzaffarpur is the worst-hit district in the state with the death toll reaching 76. Another 10 children died in Vaishali, two in Motihari and one in Begusarai.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed his grief at the deaths of the children and announced an ex-gratia of rupees four lakh each to the kin of those children who died due to the infection. He asked the district administration to take all possible steps to cure the children and wished for their speedy recovery.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan will visit Bihar's Muzaffarpur on Sunday to take stock of the situation. "While the Centre is extending all support to the state for the containment and management of the recent surge of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) and Japanese Encephalitis (JE) cases, I shall be going to Muzaffarpur tomorrow to take stock and review the situation at the site with the state government," Vardhan said.
During his visit, the minister will interact with the multi-disciplinary teams deployed there and address a state-level review meeting. "I shall discuss the management measures being recommended by the high-level expert team of the Centre, and support that can be extended through the National Health Mission (NHM) for health systems strengthening, and other Ministries of the Central government including the Ministry of Women and Child Development as part of the immediate and long term measures," he stated.
Vardhan said that the health ministry is constantly monitoring the situation and supporting the state health authorities in managing the AES/JE cases. "The continued round-the-clock presence of the central and state teams in the affected areas and preventive actions taken by them have instilled confidence among the public. We will soon be able to contain the rise in AES/JE cases," Vardhan added.
Elaborating on the support being extended to the state of Bihar, Vardhan said, "A multidisciplinary specialist high-level team has been deployed by the Health Ministry. Experts were drawn from NCDC/NVBDCP/ ICMR/AIIMS, Patna/ Child Health Division of the Health Ministry are part of this Central team and are supporting the state in containing the surge in cases of encephalopathy/ encephalitis."
The Union Health Minister also met Mangal Pandey, Health Minister of Bihar, on two occasions recently and discussed the reported rise in cases of AES from Muzaffarpur and JE.