En­cephali­tis death case: NHRC asks for re­port from state Govts

The Political and Business Daily - - STATES -

ACT­ING on a com­plaint re­gard­ing lack of med­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture and fa­cil­i­ties to tackle Acute En­cephali­tis Syn­drome (AES) deaths in Bi­har and Ut­tar Pradesh, the Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion (NHRC) has asked Union Min­istry of Health and Fam­ily Wel­fare to en­sure ac­tion taken re­ports from the states on the is­sue within eight weeks.

In a let­ter dated July 16, the NHRC di­rected the Union Health Min­istry to trans­mit the com­plaint to "con­cerned au­thor­ity" for such ac­tion as deemed ap­pro­pri­ate.

"I had com­plained to the NHRC af­ter see­ing the sit­u­a­tion in Muzaf­farpur where most of the child deaths due to AES hap­pened. The dis­ease had been strik­ing reg­u­larly in the pre-Mon­soon summer months killing hun­dreds of chil­dren, mostly from poor fam­i­lies.

Still, there were nei­ther enough beds nor bet­ter med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties to tackle the sit­u­a­tion," said Ab­hishek Ran­jan, a res­i­dent of Muzaf­farpur district, to­day.

"This showed the ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity and lack of in­ter­est on the part of the state govern­ment. There seems to be no plan to tackle this an­nual phe­nom­e­non," added Ran­jan.

Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial fig­ures, this year 859 AES af­fected chil­dren were ad­mit­ted in hos­pi­tals at Muzaf­farpur, of which 157 kids died. Most of the cases and deaths hap­pened be­tween the months of April and June.

AES has a very high death rate of around 26 per cent, but doc­tors and sci­en­tists have so far been un­able to pin­point the rea­sons be­hind the dis­ease.

In ab­sence of this, doc­tors pro­vide only symp­to­matic treat­ment to pa­tients, who are mostly below six years of age.

The symp­toms vary from high fever, body ache, stiff­ness of limbs to menin­gi­tis and coma. Usu­ally the syn­drome af­fects mal­nour­ished kids, very low sugar lev­els and plum­met­ing lev­els of elec­trolyte in the body.

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