Rajat Sharma

Nothing was done for last 20-25 years to tackle Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in Bihar

akb18I am surprised that the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome has been occurring in Muzaffarpur and adjoining districts of Bihar for the last 20-25 years, and the state administration and medical fraternity did nothing except taking cosmetic steps to deal with the situation on an annual basis.

Our reporters say, kids have been dying almost every year during summer due to AES and the local administration used to wait for the onset of monsoon rains, when the spread of the disease subsides. This was being taken as the normal every year till TV news channels played up this story this year on a wider scale. The attention of the entire nation was riveted on Muzaffarpur, even as kids suffering from AES were falling to their tragic death like nine pins.

Doctors in Bihar still say they neither know for sure why this disease occurs nor how to prevent and/or treat the patients. Watching kids die of a disease that is not being prevented makes one sad even 72 years after Independence.

India TV reporters found out that the hospitals in Muzaffarpur lacked sufficient number of beds, doctors and nurses, and the tiny tots suffering from disease were being forced to sleep on mattresses spread on the floor. This is not the case of Muzaffarpur alone. It is only a telling example of the overall level of health care services in Bihar.

Just imagine, a hospital that has witnessed the death of more than 100 kids had no thermometers or ORS devices. Cleanliness inside the hospital was in a pathetic condition and a sure invitation to death.

The Chief Minister of Bihar visited the Muzaffarpur hospital on Tuesday only because TV news channels have been playing up the story for the last 2-3 days. The announcements that were made after the CM’s visit were laughable.

It was announced that the hospital would be upgraded with 2,500 beds and number of children wards will be increased. A dharmashala will be opened near the hospital so that relatives and attendants of patients can stay.

All these announcements have just no meaning. The reality is that doctors, bureaucrats and politicians are waiting for rains to come so that the occurence of this disease will naturally cease. They can then heave a sigh of relief, and the Indian public may forget as time passes.

But I want to promise our viewers that India TV will not make them forget about this Acute Encephalitis Syndrome. We shall continue to remind the Bihar government about its responsibility so that the same thing is not repeated during summer next year.

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