Millennium Post

90 Bihar kids die of encephalitis in 15 days

New Delhi: At a time when children are dying in plenty in Muzaffarpur due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) or Japanese Encephalitis (JE) cases, the government's focus on the affairs of doctor's strike in West Bengal has raised eyebrows of many. Even though the death toll in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district due to AES/JE rose to over 90 in 15 days, not much has been done by the concerned ministries to contain the deaths.

However, the local administration, which has failed to decipher the root cause of the disease, has started an awareness drive in nearby villages. Most importantly, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan is also scheduled to visit the district on Sunday to take stock of the situation.

While talking to Millennium Post, Muzaffarpur's chief medical officer Shailesh Prasad Singh told that the AES disease is still an enigma. "Much has been done in the direction to find out the root cause of the disease, but there is no report to validate the origin of the deadly virus. Researchers from international agencies like the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, WHO, UNICEF, etc had made several visits to the district to unravel the mysterious disease, but situation prevails as it was earlier."

"It's the failure of government. Deaths due to AES/JE is not a new thing for Bihar, it's happening from several years and the governments at the Centre and state are busy in their own affairs such as visiting different countries, conducting researches, etc. Even though the country has research institutes of world repute, but we are still clueless on this matter," said a health activist, who is working in Muzaffarpur.

"In June 2014 too, the then Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had visited the affected district and had assured to extend every possible support to Bihar to contain and manage the surge of AES/JE. Teams of international health agencies visited had also visited the district in 2014, but why the governments are not able to contain the disease," the health activist said, adding that more than 290 cases of AES/JE have been reported till now.

Meanwhile, commenting on the situation that's prevailing in the district for several years, the Muzaffarpur CMO summed up that sleeping empty stomach at night, dehydration due to humidity and eating lichi on empty stomach are some of the visible causes of JE.

"JE is a viral disease, which causes mild flu-like symptoms such as high fever, convulsions and headaches. The disease commonly hitting children below 10 years and once a child gets affected with the disease, the chances of survival are very negligible," Singh told Millennium Post.

On his visit to the district, Vardhan said, "I would discuss the management measures being recommended by the high-level expert team of the Centre, and support that can be extended through National Health Mission (NHM) for health systems strengthening and other ministries of the Central government as part of the immediate and long term measures."

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