In a tragic epidemic, the death toll due to suspected Acute Encephalitis Syndrome has risen to 84 in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. As per latest reports, 84 children have died at the state-run Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) and the Kejriwal Hospital.
Reacting to the tragedy, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has announced an ex-gratia of Rs four lakh each to the family members of the deceased. The Bihar CM has also said that he has directed the concerned officials to ensure that preventive measures were taken in the affected districts. The Chief Minister has also prayed for the speedy recovery of the children suffering from the disease.
Detailing the deaths occurred, Muzaffarpur district administration has said that 69 children had died at the SKMCH, while 14 died at the Kejriwal Hospital. The health officials have cited excessive heat and humidity, hypoglycemia, eating litchi on an empty stomach as some of the reasons for this condition. They have also said that some of the patients who died in areas of extreme heat and humidity. They added that malnourishment was the major reason due to which they were unable to cope. Principal Secretary (Health) Sanjay Kumar had said a few days ago that the disease had affected 222 blocks in 12 districts, especially in Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Sheohar and East Champaran.
Earlier on Saturday, Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey said that the best way to avoid such future cases is "awareness", adding that if there is enough awareness, there won't be any hypoglycemia.
"The best way to avoid it is awareness. If there is enough awareness, there won't be any hypoglycemia. Children should not eat lychee empty-stomached, they should protect themselves from the heat. We are also spreading awareness in society through the radio and newspapers," he said.
197 children have been admitted to the SKMCH since June 1, while 91 were taken to Kejriwal Hospital with suspected AES. But most of them were found to be victims of hypoglycemia. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan is scheduled to visit Muzaffarpur on Sunday to take stock of the situation. State Health Minister Mangal Pandey will also accompany him during his visit to Muzaffarpur. Later in the day, Union Minister will also hold a meeting with Heath officials in Patna later in the day.
(With PTI Inputs)