Encephalitis death case: NHRC asks for report from state Govts
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.