Patna, June 18 : AS the death toll due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur has reached 108, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar visited the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, where more than 80 children have reportedly died from the disease.
The Chief Minister will hold a review meeting with doctors and health officials later in the day to take stock of the situation.
Nitish Kumar, accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, visited the state-run Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH), where they met children undergoing treatment and also their parents, a district health official said.
The state government is facing flak after several of its minister’s apparent apathy towards the deaths was caught on camera. On Monday, during a state health department meeting, state Health Minister Mangal Pandey was heard asking about a cricket match. In a video of the meeting, Pandey can be heard asking, “What about the match?” to which another person replies “4th wicket down.”
The Nitish kumar government is being criticised for alleged negligence and unpreparedness in handling the situation , but the state government maintains that all steps have been taken to tackle the crisis.
Of the 107 victims, 88 died in SKMCH and 19 in the private Kejriwal Hospital.
In both the hospitals, over 100 seriously ill children with symptoms of AES have been admitted and undergoing treatment.
However, unofficial deaths due the disease are said to be over 100 as some children died in villages before being hospitalised.
On Sunday, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan visited SKMCH to review the situation.
Harsh Vardhan spent four hours at the hospital reviewing the situation arising out of sudden spurt in the number of deaths. However, he did not find any fault with the lack of facilities at the hospital and backed the doctors for their efficiency in dealing with the crisis.
He also advocated setting up of a research institute to identify the reason behind the disease. In 2014, a similar AES outbreak claimed 379 lives. Harsh Vardhan, who was the Union health minister in the Centre then had visited the hospital but even after five years, the situation on the ground has not changed much.
“The doctors here at the hospital are doing their best under such a difficult situation in treating the children. A multi-disciplinary institute will be set up here in the next one year to identify the reason behind this disease,” Harsh Vardhan said.