Bihar has been facing a major health problem and a number of deaths due to the diseases named Acute Encephalities Syndrome (AES) and Japanese Encephalities (JE) which are mainly affecting the districts of Muzaffarpur and Gaya respectively. The month of June is proving to be too disastrous for the people of Bihar. Since the beginning of the month till now, the death toll has been rapidly increasing and now the number of deaths is recorded as 139.
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Amidst rising cases of AES and JE in the state, the union ministry of health and family welfare constituted a multi-specialist high level team to tackle the situation.
The government has looped in experts from National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), National Vector Borne Diseases Control Program (NVBDCP), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Patna and Child Health Division of the health ministry are a part of the central team and will review the surge in cases of encephalopathy or encephalitis and to assist the state in containment and control operations.
The newly constituted team consists of Ram Singh, joint director and in-charge, NCDC-Patna; Saurabh Goel, Asst. director, integrated disease surveillance programme (IDSP), NCDC-Delhi; Poonam Vellamuri, entomologist, NVBDCP; Lokesh Tiwari, associate professor , paediatrics, AIIMS-Patna; Arun Singh, national advisor, Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK), child health division, union health ministry; and Krishna Pandey, scientist from Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Science (RMRC), Patna.
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Harsh Vardhan, the union minister of health and family welfare, reviewed the status of AES in Muzaffarpur and JE in Gaya in Bihar. “I met Health Minister of Bihar Mangal Pandey and have assured him full support and assistance by the Health Ministry. A multi-specialist high level team has been constituted by the Health Ministry and deployed to Bihar. The team will reach Bihar tomorrow. This is in addition to a Central Team which is already stationed in Muzaffarpur. They have visited various hospitals to assess the situation and support the State government,” said Harsh Vardhan.
“Health Ministry is also coordinating with the Ministry of Women and Child Development for distribution of nutritious food with glucose in the meals to prevent development of AES,” he added.
The Children who are sufferig from AES and JE are being admitted to government run Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) and privately owned Kejriwal hospital. However, the Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar had to face people’s protest outside the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) at Muzaffarpur where he had gone to take the account of the situation following the deaths of the children due to AES. A group, comprising relatives of the children and villagers, gathered outside the government hospital shouting “Nitish Kumar wapas jao” (Nitish Kumar go back) while waving black flags at him.
Moreover, A large number of policemen were deployed at the hospital gate to control the protesters beacuse Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, his junior in the Cabinet, Ashwani Kumar Choubey, and State Health Minister Mangal Pandey too had to face a protest at the hospital.
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On June 20, the Bihar Health Department had released state-wide figures including the total toll following the outbreak, which has spread across 16 districts, at 136.
However, Kumar held a meeting with top State and Health department officials in Patna and directed several measures be taken to save the lives of the children. He directed officials to visit the villages where the children had died to record their social and medical history. He had also announced an ex-gratia of ₹4 lakh to the families of those who died.
When Ajanta News spoke to the State Minister for Information and Public Relations, Neeraj Kumar, he said, “Whatever the Government can do, it is doing. What is reason of AES diasease and what is its remedy, people should help us to know about this. We’ve not come to know about the reason of disease yet. Some people say that it is due to leechie, some say it is due to heat. the disease exist from 1996 and several medical intitutes have reasearched about it..but we didn’t come to know the reason behind it.”
He said that it is a big challenge for the state and they are working towards overcoming this challenge. “This is a new problem, this is a natural calamity and a very big challenge for us. Nitishji has developed the forest area. How much people want to critisize us, let them do, we have worked, we’ve worked in health sector as well, if not developed then how people are preferring to go a state run hospital. Bihar has a huge population density, the area is big. we need help of everyone to overcome this disease. This is a huge challenge for us because they are our children and it is very sad situation right now. We are facing such challenge and people are talking ill about us. People should instead help us in reaseraching that what would be reason behind this disease,” he added.
Upon asking about their future action plan in controlling the disease and deaths due to it, he said, “we are working towards making Bihar a healthy state in terms of human index, in terms of infrastructure. Caste and Creed are not mandatory for us, developement is mandatory for us. We have limited resources and whatever resources we have we will work, though Bihar is a backward state, we are working for it and we will be doing.”
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AES, however, is a group of medical conditions that affect the brain. It is caused by a wide range of viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. JE is a mosquito-borne disease caused by the Japanese encephalitis virus and spread primarily by the Culex mosquito. It is an infection of the brain caused by the Japanese encephalitis virus, its symptoms may include headache, vomiting, fever, confusion, and seizures. JE, the most common form of viral encephalitis occurs periodically in endemic areas leading to high mortality and neurological deficits in survivors, the union health ministry said in a statement.