Bihar medical crisis struck a new low as the ministers of the state engaged in a blame-game while the death toll in Bihar's Muzzafarpur due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) rose to a 101. Amid such terrible development, Congress leader from Bihar Shatrughan Sinha took to Twitter to offer condolences to the children and their families who are suffering while also demanding that strict action be taken against those who are responsible.
His tweet read,
By June 11, the disease had claimed the lives of 50 children which now has soared up to a 101. While excessive heat and humidity, hypoglycemia, eating litchi on an empty stomach have been cited as some of the reasons behind so many deaths, the questions as to why the state or center failed to combat this illness remains unanswered.
However, what has been more shocking is the sight of the Ministers evading questions and their refusal to claim responsibility. While most engaged in a series of false promises, others turned a blind eye to the crisis which has caused the deaths of so many children.
A day earlier, Union Minister of State for Health Ashwani Kumar Choubey who is from the state chose to celebrate his party BJP's Lok Sabha victory rather than visiting the ailing children and distressed families in the hospital. When a journalist asked him about his conduct, Minister Choubey lost his cool and displayed shocking high-handedness. He angrily responded and avoided answering the question and said that journalist was trivialising the serious issue in the state adding that he should not make such personal accusation.
Also on Sunday Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan accompanied by Union Minister of State for Health Ashwani Kumar Choubey and Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey, visited the state-owned Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) to review the current situation. Addressing a press conference after reviewing the situation, Harsh Vardhan explained the efforts taken by the Centre and the state.
"I took an overall comprehensive view. The efforts made by the government till now is good. We have set the timelines to improve the situation after meeting with Bihar Health minister. An epidemiologist will be posted immediately to study this district continuously," he said. A day before, Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey was also caught blocking the way of an ambulance to make way for his convoy to pass. On the other hand, regarding the absence of the Chief Minister of the state Nitish Kumar, another Bihar cabinet minister Shyam Rajak brazenly stated that the "Chief Minister is doing efforts that are important"
He said, "Nobody knows the cause, but as far as such illness is concerned, for people to come to the hospitals we have gone to homes distributing leaflets saying if any such symptoms are hinted they should go to the hospital."
When questioned about the JD(U) chief's absence, Rajak shielding Kumar, said that his 'efforts are important'.
He said, "This is not a question as to whether the Chief Minister wants to come or not. He is doing efforts that are important. The Opposition has nothing to say, hence they are criticising Nitish. I came here as a representative, his efforts are important rather than his visit."
However, on Monday, Nitish Kumar finally took action called an emergency internal meeting to address the situation arisen due to the outbreak of the disease which had affected 222 blocks in 12 districts, especially in Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Sheohar and East Champaran.