7 more children die of AES in Bihar; govt starts survey
The manager of the main government hospital in Muzaffarpur, the epicentre of the crisis, said that a prisoners’ ward has been emptied out and turned into a makeshift Intensive Care Unit (ICU).Updated: Jun 21, 2019, 07:38 IST
Seven more children died to acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in Bihar on Thursday, taking the total number of such deaths since the beginning of this month to 135 and exposing the crumbling state of health care in some of the country’s poorest districts.
The Bihar government’s handling of the situation has sparked criticism from the public and experts, forcing authorities on Thursday to take new steps to ease a shortage of beds and begin a door-to-door outreach programme to detect potential patients in time in some of the worst-affected areas.
The manager of the main government hospital in Muzaffarpur, the epicentre of the crisis, said that a prisoners’ ward has been emptied out and turned into a makeshift Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
“We have converted this ward into an ICU and shifted the prisoners’ ward. We have done this to accommodate more children. At least 19 more beds will be added here, which will increase the capacity. This ward will become functional shortly,” said the manager of the main government-run Shri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) in Muzaffarpur, according to ANI.
The crisis also sparked an intervention from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which on Thursday said teams of doctors empanelled with it will begin a visit to all Indian states to prepare a comprehensive report of health care facilities in vulnerable parts of the country.
State medical authorities on Thursday started a daily door-to-door campaign to actively detect cases of AES so that treatment can begin early.
“People with symptoms will be referred to primary health centres, where initial management and support will be provided before referring patients to higher centres if needed. Our efforts will be to ensure local protocols are established and followed, including a monitoring system to keep a check,” said Manoj Jhalani, mission director, Nationals health Mission.
A team of experts from the Indian Council of Medical Research are in the process of setting up a virology lab at SKMCH.
Doctors have not yet been able to determine the cause of the AES outbreak, which has been reported almost entirely in children. A team from the Union government has been dispatched to the affected regions.
AES (the swelling of brain membrane) can be caused by a raft of factors, including toxins in unripe litchis — Muzaffarpur is the litchi hub of the state — viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, and chemical poisons.