Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s visit to the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) in Muzaffarpur on Tuesday was met with protests from locals and families of the 108 children who died due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES). At least 89 children have died of AES at this hospital.
Medical Superintendent of SKMCH SK Shahi announced that a bulletin daily will be released at 3 pm today for an update on the situation. He also said that the Chief Minister was satisfied with the present medical treatment being provided.
“CM met the patients and their relatives. He was satisfied with the present medical treatment being provided & ordered us to release a bulletin daily at 3pm. He was pained by the fact that adequate facilities for treatment were not available at the hospital.” On Monday, the death toll across the district crossed 100.
The Chief Minister had earlier announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh for each child who died in the outbreak. He also directed officials of the state health department, the district administration and doctors to take all possible measures to tackle the situation.
Death toll due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) is 108. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Monday issued notices to the Union Health Ministry and Bihar government and took suo motu cognisance of media reports about the rising number of deaths of children due to AES.
The human rights agency pointed out that the deaths of children in such a large number indicated a “possible flaw” in the proper implementation of the vaccination and awareness programmes.
According to a release issued by the district administration, 18 deaths were reported from Kejriwal Hospital in the district. Since January 1, 358 children with AES have been admitted to SKMCH and Kejriwal Matrisadan.
AES is a broad term involving several infections, and affects young children. The syndrome can be caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi. In India, the most common cause is the virus that causes Japanese encephalitis (JE). Health Ministry estimates attribute 5-35% of AES cases to the JE virus. In the latest outbreak in Muzaffarpur, the cause is yet to be clinically identified in most of the children.