Encephalitis outbreak: Nitish directs 24-hour availability of doctors

People shout slogans against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during his visit to Shri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) to review the situation prevailing due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Muzaffarpur, Tuesday, June 18. Photo: PTI

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday (June 18) directed health officials to ensure 24-hour availability of doctors at the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital in Muzaffarpur, where around 89 children have died due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) over the past few weeks.

The chief minister visited the hospital on Tuesday to take stock of the situation, two days after union health minister Harsh Vardhan’s visit. Meanwhile, locals staged a protest outside the hospital against the chief minister’s visit after the toll crossed the three-digit mark.

At least 108 children have died due to the disease in the district of Muzaffarpur, of which 85 deaths were recorded at the SKMCH and 18 at Kejriwal hospital. However, media reports said that the numbers were as high as 89 at the state-run SKMCH. Over 300 children have admitted there with complaints of AES since June 1.

Encephalitis in Muzaffarpur, The Federal, English news website
A woman carries a child showing symptoms of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) at a hospital in Muzaffarpur, Tuesday, June 18. Photo: PTI

After the chief minister’s visit, his office issued a press release saying that Kumar had suggested undertaking an “environmental study” of the area where people were being affected by the disease.

He further suggested a study of the socio-economic conditions of those families and an assessment of the environment with respect to cleanliness, it said.

Kumar also directed the chief health secretary to increase the strength of SKMCH to 2,500 beds besides ordering the construction of a guesthouse for the relatives of the patients. He also focused on the need of awareness campaign regarding the disease.

The chief minister also asked the officials to ensure 24-hour availability of doctors and to increase their strength, besides focusing on awareness campaigns, the release said.

Meanwhile, Bihar Minister and Muzaffarpur MLA Suresh Sharma said a review meeting was held over the cause of encephalitis outbreak. “So far, around 200 children have been treated and discharged from hospitals,” he said.

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