- 136 children have died due to "brain fever" in 16 districts of Bihar
- At least 600 children are under treatment from the deadly encephalitis
- PM should have sent a message to affected families, Manoj K Jha said
RJD spokesperson Manoj K Jha served lacerating comments on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over what he claimed was the PM's silence on the deaths of 136 children due to "brain fever" in 16 districts of Bihar. At least 600 children are under treatment from the deadly encephalitis.
"We get goosebumps by the deaths of the children. I understand they did not die due to encephalitis, but due to apathy, by the government's mismanagement, conspicuous absence of care," Mr Jha, Rajya Sabha member from the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), told NDTV.
"Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) jiasked about the thumb injury of cricketer Shikhar Dhawan. It's a good thing to ask, we are also happy. But for those kids who died to the disease at an age when they are still sucking their thumbs, the Prime Minister should have at least sent a message to the affected families. It would also have sent a message to the state government of the party that's part of the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) that the PM has taken a strong stand over the issue," Mr Kumar said.
The RJD leader, who also teaches at Delhi University, was referring to PM Modi's tweet to Shikhar Dhawan after he was pulled out of the cricket world cup due to a thumb injury that will take time to heal. "Dear @SDhawan25, no doubt the pitch will miss you but I hope you recover at the earliest so that you can once again be back on the field and contribute to more wins for the nation," PM Modi tweeted on Thursday.
Doctors have pinned the high number of deaths to a toxin found in unripe litchi fruit, which is believed to be consumed by malnourished children from underprivileged backgrounds, news agency PTI reported.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was met by a crowd of angry parents and protesters chanting "wapas jao (go back)" on his first visit to Muzaffarpur on Tuesday since the outbreak of encephalitis.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan visited Muzaffarpur on Sunday last, two days before Chief Minister Nitish Kumar went to the district and met with officials to review the situation. The state health department has sent more medical officers, child specialists and nurses from other districts to Muzaffarpur, the worst-hit by "brain fever".
"They (the government) themselves have sent a point by point report to Rajya Sabha that says preventive intensive care unit has become meaningless. If we don't sit down and discuss this issue and work to solve the broken healthcare system, then children will keep dying," said Mr Jha.
The state government says health workers are being given packets of oral rehydration solution for free distribution in the affected regions. The government has also announced it would reimburse expenses involved in getting children treated at private hospitals and nursing homes or hiring ambulances.
Many child specialists, not associated with any government hospital, are holding free camps