Doctors strike cripples medical facilities in encephalitis-hit Bihar, OPD services shut at PMCH in capital



In the past few days, over 100 children have died of suspected acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in Bihar. Intense heat wave has claimed 61 lives in the state. As the state continues to battle this crisis, the medical services have been crippled by the doctors strike being held today. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) had called for a nationwide doctors strike on Monday to express solidarity with the junior doctors agitating in Kolkata against the assault on their colleague at Kolkatas NRS Medical College. At the state largest hospital, the Patna Medical College in Patna, long queues of patients was witness as OPD services were shut. PMCH Superintendent Rajeev Ranjan told news agency PTI that the doctors had been asked to ensure that no patient suffers due to the strike. Ranjan also said that the doctors would face serious action if their boycott of work led to a casualty or affected any patient adversely. OPD services are also paralyzed at the SKMCH hospital in Muzaffarpur, where 290 children afflicted with acute encephalitis syndrome have been admitted since June 1, out of whom over 100 have died so far. Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain, caused by any one of a number of viruses. Symptoms include high fever, vomiting and, in severe cases, seizures, paralysis and coma. Infants and elderly people are particularly vulnerable. Five years ago, a similar outbreak killed about 380 people in Bihar. The lack of adequate infrastructure has been another factor hampering the states battle against AES. Muzaffarpur MP Ajay Nishad on Monday said that 1-3 children were being treated on the same bed. Nishad said that children from across the state were coming to Muzaffarpur for treatment, and therefore there was a need for more ICUs. He assured that the situation will be under control next year. Schools and colleges in Muzaffarpur have been closed till June 22 in light of the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome epidemic.

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