As the outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) claims 130 lives in the state of Bihar, Republic TV has investigated the case not only in the district of Muzaffarpur but also in the district of Vaishali where the families are running away from their villages due to lack of facilities.
Rajesh Sahni from Harivanshpur village in Vaishali said while speaking to Republic TV:
"5 children at my home are ill. I took 3 of them to Kejriwal hospital. But the doctor said that they have already admitted 80 children and there is no place. So I am writing a prescription, go and fetch medicine from the chemist. We cannot admit the children here and if we do, then they will be treated on the floor. Use a local doctor to give him saline water. So my children are at home and are being treated in huts. We are curing them here."
A patient's father in Harivanshpur village in Vaishali district of Bihar said:
"At 3 in the night my elder son died. By the time we reached here, my younger son also died by the time we reached the hospital. We are taking my younger daughter away because there is no cure."
When inquired from a doctor in Vaishali about the incident, he said that there are camps according to the number of cases in the villages.
"In Bhagwpur and Harivanshpur village, we did the camping. In Mahua also. So we are setting up camps as per needs."
Protestors also alleged that when Nitish Kumar came to visit SKMC hospital then the police started pushing them back using laathi at them.
Amid the rising death toll of the people due to AES in Bihar, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan was earlier questioned on the status of facilities in the hospitals. Responding to the questions of media in an ire tone, Dr Harsh Vardhan stated that the state and Central government are doing their best, even as he refused to address a press conference in the matter. Asserting that he has shared all the information in the matter with the media, he added that facilities are being provided in the hospital and the situation is being monitored.
"The Shree Care Centre is already in the advanced stage of development, I myself have gone and seen that. In the same campus, the super-speciality hospital is already working there. I am not addressing a press conference here. I have said whatever I wanted to say. We are doing the best. I have shared everything with the media. We are monitoring the whole thing every hourly," said Dr Harsh Vardhan.
READ: Unanimous: From Lack Of Basic Amenities And Medicines, To Unclean Premises, To Overcrowding, Kin Of Patients At Muzaffarpur's SKMCH Hospital Lash Out As Encephalitis Death Toll In Bihar Reaches 130
On June 18, as the Bihar Chief Minister was leaving the venue at the Vidhan Sabha campus in Patna after paying tribute to Anugrah Narayan Sinha on his birth anniversary, Republic TV reporter confronted him and asked him if it is too late that he is visiting the patients in the Muzaffarpur hospital after days of the encephalitis outbreak. However, Nitish Kumar chose to duck and ignore the question "Isn't it too late?" as he sat in his car and left the venue.
As per reports, the death toll in Muzaffarpur district has reached 109, in Vaishali district 1 and in Samastipur 4, with the administration under Chief Minister Nitish Kumar blaming it on excessive heat and humidity, hypoglycemia, eating litchis on an empty stomach. However, despite the disease affecting the state every year, the questions as to why the state or Centre failed to combat this illness remains unanswered.
As Nitish Kumar visited the SKMCH hospital on Tuesday morning, protest broke out over his silence on the incident. A protestor outside the SKMCH hospital said: "CM cannot just sit in his car and walk away, he has to reply. We are protesting against the inefficiency of the government. Nitish Kumar must answer, he cannot come in an AC car and go."
A case has been filed by social activist Tamanna Hashmi against Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey in a court in Muzaffarpur district on charges of negligence leading to the deaths of innocent children due to AES over a period of 9 days. Moreover, it was alleged that Union Health Minister of State Ashwini Kumar Choubey was sleeping during the press briefing on the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome by Union Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.
Meanwhile, former Chief Minister Rabri Devi has targeted the 'double engine' government in the state of Bihar and said that negligence of the Nitish Kumar led government has led to the 'murder' of so many children.