Hospitals, struggling to deal with the situation, are admitting four children to a bed
New Delhi: A petition seeking urgent action over the health crisis in Bihar's Muzaffarpur, where over 100 children have died with Acute Encephalitis Syndrome, will be heard on Monday. The petition will ask the court to order the state and the Centre to set up 500 Intensive Care Units and station enough doctors. It will also ask that a team of medical experts be set up to deal with the crisis. Amid mounting criticism from angry parents, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar visited Muzzaffarpur yesterday for the first time since the outbreak began.
Here are 10 latest developments in this big story:
- The petition filed before the Supreme Court alleges that the Muzaffarpur deaths were "a direct result of negligence and inaction" in handling the outbreaks of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) and Japanese encephalitis by the state and Central governments.
- The outbreak of AES in Bihar has killed 130 children. In Muzaffarpur's Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, 93 children have died. Another 19 died at the city's Kejriwal Maternity Hospital.
- Hospitals, struggling to deal with the situation, are admitting four children to a bed. There are not enough doctors or equipment to handle the outbreak. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, a doctor, who visited on Sunday, said "everyone is taking responsibility" and the government is "delivering the best it can".
- Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who made his first visit to Muzaffarpur yesterday, was met with cries of "Wapas jao (go back)" at the Sri Krishna Medical College.
- Tearful parents criticised hospital authorities and government over lack of infrastructure and doctors. Protesters who gathered outside during the Chief Minister's visit, alleged the hospital was more concerned with impressing him than treating patients.
- Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey and Muzaffarpur lawmaker Ajay Nishad came under attack for shocking responses to the outbreak.
- Mr Pandey drew widespread criticism for inquiring about an India-Pakistan cricket match at a press conference held by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. The criticism grew louder as Mr Nishad claimed the state government made just a "few tiny mistakes" in tackling the outbreak.
- The National Human Rights Commission said the deaths could indicate a "possible flaw" in implementation of vaccination and awareness programmes. The commission has sent notices to the Union Health Ministry and Bihar government, who have four weeks to respond.
- Acute Encephalitis Syndrome is a group of symptoms that indicate an inflammatory condition of the central nervous system. It can be brought about by any number of virus, bacteria or even fungi - the actual reason has been elusive so far.
- The symptoms include high fever, convulsions, confusion, extremely-low blood-sugar level and even coma. The outbreaks occur regularly in areas in and around Muzaffarpur during summer, and mostly affect children below 15 years of age.
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