SC issues notice to Nitish Kumar's government over encephalitis deaths
While India focuses on becoming a superpower, its children are dying because governments didn't care to raise awareness about a deadly disease. Case in point: Bihar, where Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) has killed nearly 150 children. The tragic state of affairs also garnered the Supreme Court's attention which pulled up the state government and directed it to file a report within seven days.
Since June 1, the AES outbreak has affected 20 out of 40 districts, with Muzaffarpur being the worst affected. Also known as Chamaki Bhukhar by locals, AES afflicted more than 600 malnourished children. Though seasonal fruit litchi was blamed for it, it only facilitates the disease. Kids died due to low blood sugar levels as they slept on empty stomachs after eating the fruit.
When well-nourished kids eat litchis, it hardly makes a difference because reserve glucose is stored as glycogen in their livers. But this isn't the case with malnourished kids, who have low glucose levels. In these cases, the liver is unable to meet the glucose demand and kids develop hypoglycemia. Subsequently, they fall sick and show symptoms like fever, brain function derangement, and seizures.
In Bihar's case, this deadly turn of events was completely avoidable. All the government had to do was spread awareness and be prepared for the epidemic, which sadly has been recurring. But, it took the deaths of more than 100 kids for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to pay a visit to SKMCH in Muzaffarpur, the epicenter of the crisis. Obviously, the apathy was bound to be slammed.
As the cries of kids troubled the country, advocates Manohar Pratap and Sanpreet Singh Ajmani filed a PIL in SC. They demanded that a team of medical experts should be formed, which would aid in treatment. Subsequently, a bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and BR Gavai asked the Bihar government to file an affidavit detailing medical facilities, nutrition, sanitation, and hygiene conditions in the state.
When one of the lawyers told the court, similar deaths happened in Uttar Pradesh earlier, the bench asked for a response regarding the same. The matter will be heard after 10 days, reported PTI. Earlier, the encephalitis deaths also forced the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to issue notices to the state and central governments over the "deplorable" health conditions in the country.