Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is set to visit Muzaffarpur on Tuesday to take stock of the condition of children who are suffering from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES). Kumar held a high-level meeting on Monday evening to review the situation which has arisen due to the outbreak of the disease, which has claimed lives of 126 children in the state.
Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Monday issued directions for immediately sending another high-level team to Muzaffarpur to set up a state-of-the-art multi-disciplinary research centre in Muzaffarpur. Dr Harsh Vardhan took the decision after reviewing the situation at a high-level meeting which was attended by senior officers of the Health Ministry, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and AIIMS. The research team will work with the children suffering from AES and examine various aspects including periodicity, cycle of disease, environmental factors and meteorological data, besides other factors.
In a related development, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday sent notices to the Union Health Ministry and Bihar government seeking reports over the death of children due to AES in Muzaffarpur. The NHRC sent the notices after taking took suo motu cognisance of media reports over the rising number of deaths of children due to AES.
The NHRC has also sought a report from Bihar government providing details about the status of implementation of National Programme for Prevention and Control of Japanese Encephalitis Virus/ Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (NPPCJA) and other steps taken by the state government to check the outbreak of AES in the state. It is expected that the Bihar government would submit the report to NHRC within four weeks.
NHRC issues a notice to Chief Secretary, Govt of Bihar & Secretary, Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, calling for a detailed report in deaths due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. pic.twitter.com/xoy6INKZ8S
— ANI (@ANI) 17 June 2019
Meanwhile, senior BJP leader Dr CP Thakur on Monday raised questions over Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the state government over the AES outbreak and said that the state govermment gets active only at the time of outbreak of the deadly disease. Thakur, who is also a physician, slammed the state government for not taking action in advance to prevent the outbreak of AES.
BJP leader Dr CP Thakur raises questions on Bihar govt & CM Nitish Kumar over the issue of death due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome. In his press release he states that govt comes into active mode only at the time of outbreak,when it should've been active beforehand to prevent it pic.twitter.com/7B0061NPLo
— ANI (@ANI) 17 June 2019
Stressing that Bihar government should take the outbreak of AES seriously and focus on research in order to prevent people from getting affected from such disease in future, the Rajya Sabha MP demanded that a high-level investigation should be done to find out if the recent outbreak of AES had happened due to the consumption of Litchis.
Encephalitis, called 'Chamki' fever in Hindi, is a viral disease, which causes mild flu-like symptoms such as high fever, convulsions and headaches. In India, AES outbreak is typically linked to consumption of unripe litchi fruit by children on empty stomachs.