Muzaffarpur: Centre announces to set up ICUs as encephalitis toll reaches 103

The Central government has directed the Bihar government to set up a 100-bed pediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Muzaffarpurs Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) where more than 100 children have lost their lives due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome or Japanese encephalitis. This comes after the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) sent notices to the central and state governments over increasing AES-linked casualties and sought a detailed report within four weeks. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has also directed the Nitish Kumar government to take preventive measures in adjoining districts. He informed that the Centre will set up 10 bed pediatric ICUs in the neighbouring districts to provide effective treatment to the affected kids. At these pediatric ICUs, he said, exclusive treatment will be provided to kids affected by AES and minimise the load on facilities at SKMCH. Also, Vardhan has directed that another high-level multi-disciplinary team will be sent to Bihar immediately to undertake the necessary groundwork for setting up a state-of-the-art multi-disciplinary research centre at Muzaffarpur. The research team will work with the children suffering from the disease and look at various aspects including periodicity, cycle of disease, environmental factors and meteorological data, besides other factors. He said that five virological laboratories will be set up across districts in the state which will be decided in consultation with the state government. He said that these labs can be funded through the National Health Mission (NHM). On Monday, five more children died at SKMCH and one at Kejriwal Hospital in Muzaffarpur, taking the toll to 103. The condition of over a dozen kids at the two hospitals was stated to be serious. According to a report in The Indian Express, of the 440 AES-linked hospital admissions so far, 154 patients are under treatment at different hospitals. Most of them hail from low-income families of Muzaffarpur, East Champaran, Vaishali, Sitamarhi and Samastipur. Meanwhile, the state government has issued an advisory stating that most of the children have died due to hypoglycemia, a medical condition where blood sugar falls drastically and electrolyte imbalance. The government has said that the disease is reportedly linked to litchi and urged parents not to feed this seasonal fruit to their kids. On Sunday, Vardhan visited Muzaffarpur where he met the families of the children suffering from encephalitis. He said that the Centre has been assisting the state government to control the situation after the outbreak. He added that a timeline has been decided to work to contain and control the disease. In 2014, the outbreak had claimed 355 lives in the region while in 2015 reported 11 deaths. In 2016 and 2017, the disease claimed 15 lives.


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