Majority of the families, who lost their children to encephalitis, falls in Below Poverty Line background. Out of 104 Primary Health Centre’s (PHC) near Muzaffarpur and the surrounding area, only five PHC’s were eligible for government ratings, and they, too, were rated zero. Media reports and government findings highlight reasons beyond Litchis.
The Supreme Court, on Monday, issued a notice to the Bihar and Central government seeking an explanation for the death of over 150 children due to AES. The Bihar government has been directed to file an affidavit within seven days on the adequacy of medical facilities, nutrition and sanitation conditions in the state.
Accordingly, the state government has assured the Supreme Court, that it is taking all necessary steps to control the outbreak of AES. However, experts suggest that the steps are not enough as the death toll is still rising.
Muzaffarpur, which is the epicentre of the outbreak, is unequipped to deal with any public health emergency. The Sri Krish Medical College and Hospital witnessed over 100 deaths, and reports mention that it lacks facilities such as drinking water and uninterrupted electricity.
There is still confusion about the cause of the problem. Most of the children were undernourished, and the cause of heat is being evaluated.
Dr Shaligram Vishwakarma, President of IMA Bihar, said, “This disease has a lot to do with poverty and poor health infrastructure. We, private practitioners, have little to contribute here. As almost all the patients, who have been admitted are from BPL families, they do not come to private doctors. Role of IMA is limited here. We are making people aware.”
“The matter has gone to the Supreme Court. It is a serious matter. The government should go to the root cause and see why deaths have occurred. Hundreds of medical staff posts are vacant in Bihar. The government should increase health budget, and should equip us with health infrastructure,” he said.