Muzaffarpur: As many as 43 children below the age of 10 years have died at two hospitals in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district this month after being admitted with Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).
The state government has not cited AES as cause of death and has instead attributed most of them to hypoglycemia — meaning low blood sugar level. Experts, however, say hypoglycemia is one aspect of AES.
A seven-member Central government team is likely to visit the hospitals soon and suggest guidelines.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has expressed concern over the situation and directed the health department to ensure that primary health care centres and hospitals follow standard operating procedures to deal with the cases.
Since this January, 172 children aged below 10 have been admitted to the two hospitals with AES. Of them, 157 have been admitted since June 1 and all 43 deaths have been reported in June.
Shri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) took in 117 such patients since January — 102 of these were admitted in June and 36 of them died.
Kejriwal Matrisadan admitted 55 AES cases since June 1 and of them, seven children have died. Currently, four patients in Kejriwal Matrisadan and six children in SKMCH are in a critical condition. The hospitals have discharged 41 children with AES after treatment.
Ever since AES cases were first reported in Muzaffarpur and surrounding areas in 1994, it has remained a challenge for the Bihar government, despite its claims of being prepared to deal with it. Several researches have only narrowed down to heat, humidity and malnutrition as the reasons. Blame it on the lack of an awareness campaign or any programme ro deal with nutrition, AES spurt has often exposed the health department’s lack of preparedness. In 2012, 120 children died due to AES, followed by 90 such deaths in 2014.
SKMCH currently has 53 children with AES, most of them from in and around the town and hailing from poor families.
Ramesh Manjhi’s only son Gulshan Kumar (4) is one of them. “Since there is no bed, we made Gulshan sleep on the floor. Hope there are no further complications and he is discharged soon,” said Ramesh, a mason from Turki.
Raj Kishore Mahto from Paru is worried as his daughter Julie Kumari (7) has been unconscious since Tuesday. Doctors have said the admission was delayed and she would take time to respond to the treatment.
A nurse said that most children admitted with AES are suffering from hypoglycemia and some are suffering from hyperglycemia. A doctor said, “Parents should be alert when their children do not eat properly and vomit. Going to local quacks worsens the case. Almost all patients are from poor families and are malnourished.”
Nurses said they were under pressure to use “hypoglycemia” instead of AES because “it brought a bad name to the state government”.
SKMCH Medical Superintendent Dr S K Shahi told , “All cases come under the broad term of AES, but people consider it a disease when it is just a syndrome. Hypoglycemia is the specific reason for most deaths.”
“We are avoiding using AES because of the wrong perception it creates. Of the 36 deaths reported here, 25 occurred because of hypoglycemia and five due to hypoglycemia and electrolytes imbalance. Reasons of six deaths are not known.” He added that of the samples picked from the hospital, only two were confirmed cases of Japanese Encephalitis.
Dr Arun Shah, executive committee member of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics Association and a leading paediatrician in the district, said, “How can anyone say these are not AES cases? Hypoglycemia is just a part of it. A healthy child has a reserve of sugar, but a poor and undernourished child has no buffer stock of sugar in her body. Hot and humid weather, lack of cleanliness and malnutrition are the reasons behind AES incidence.”
“The state government failed to run a nutrition programme and awareness campaign which should have been started in February. It is very easy to hide behind the medical jargon of hypoglycemia. They should find ways to deal with hypoglycemia to tackle AES.”
Bihar health department principal secretary Sanjay Kumar said, “We hope to get some guidelines from the Central team. Most deaths occured due to hypoglycemia. Some of these patients hailed from Sitamarhi, Sheohar, Vaishali and East Champaran districts.”
Ayodhya on high alert following intelligence inputs
Ayodhya: Amid VIP movements, Ayodhya has been put on high alert soon after intelligence inputs indicated a possible terror attack in the city.
“We have put more force into action. The force has been alerted. Also, intelligence officials in the civil dress have come here. They are checking all hotels, restaurants and railway stations. The police force is vigilant and keeping a track of all the movements,” Anil Kumar Sisodia, Superintendent of Police City, told ANI.
This comes ahead of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s visit to Ayodhya on Sunday along with his party MPs.
According to reports, the security has also been heightened keeping in mind the hearing on 2005 Ram Janmabhoomi attack on June 18.
Seven died while cleaning hotel sewer in Vadodara
Vadodara: Seven persons, including four sanitation workers, died due to asphyxiation on Saturday while cleaning sewer of a hotel in Gujarat’s Vadodara district, officials said.
The incident happened at a hotel in Fartikui village in Dabhoi tehsil, about 30 km from Vadodara city. Three employees of the hotel were also among those killed.
“When one sanitation worker failed to come out of the manhole, others went inside. All of them died due to asphyxiation,” district collector Kiran Zaveri told PTI.
Manmohan retires from Rajya Sabha
New Delhi: For the first time in 28 years, former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s name ceased to be part of the list of members of the Rajya Sabha on its Web site, and was included in the list of former members of Parliament.
With the Congress lacking the numbers in the Assam legislature to ensure his re-election, 86-year-old Dr Singh retired from the Rajya Sabha.
Dr Singh, then finance minister in the P V Narasimha Rao government, had debuted in the House on October 1, 1991, from Assam and represented the state for five consecutive terms. He was the leader of the House during his 10 years as PM, and leader of the Opposition from 1998 to 2004.The former PM would now need to wait for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, an ally of the Congress, to send him to the Rajya Sabha next month or until the next biennial elections in the Upper House in April 2020 when 54 MPs retire.
Five Rajya Sabha members from Tamil Nadu retire in July. The DMK, along with its allies, has the strength in the state legislature to get at least three elected to the Rajya Sabha. It has promised one seat to MDMK chief Vaiko.
However, sources said the DMK and the Congress have not had any discussions on the issue.
The Congress could also hope to send Dr Singh to the Upper House from Gujarat if elections to fill the two vacancies from the state take place together.
The vacancies are on account of two Bharatiya Janata Party Rajya Sabha members from Gujarat, Amit Anilchandra Shah and Smriti Zubin Irani, being elected to the Lok Sabha. Shah has debuted in the Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar while Irani is the Lok Sabha member from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress’s numbers in the Gujarat assembly would ensure the party wins one of the two seats, the other going to the BJP, if elections to the two seats are held jointly.