In retaliation to the rising death toll in Bihar due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome(AES) and heat stroke, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan's car was greeted with black flags on Sunday when he visited the state to get the ground information. The protesters raising the black flags reportedly belonged to the Jan Adhikar Party. Many have claimed government negligence as the main reason for the death toll due to AES in children, which has reached upto 93 in Muzaffarpur, Bihar.
Visuals show men armed with black flags stopping the passage of Vardhan's car, waving it at the convoy. Police then intervene and disperse the crowds as the car proceeds on its way.
Earlier in the day, 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 due to the outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).
Addressing a press conference after reviewing the situation, Vardhan expressed concerns over the rise in deaths saying he felt sympathy for the parents.
"We are very sad that this year there have been more cases than the last few years. Death of a child is very painful for the parents. I can feel the parents' pain as a doctor. The children have a fever, seizures. All historical data of the children show that the problems started early morning around 3-4 AM."
Explaining the efforts taken by the Centre and the state he said:
"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."
Muzaffarpur district administration has 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.