Vardhan assures help to ailing children in Bihar, death toll rises to 96

Muzaffarpur | Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday visited the families of the children suffering from suspected acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) even as the death toll rose to 96 in the district.

Vardhan, his deputy Ashwini Kumar Choubey and Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey visited the SKMCH. “I assure the people of the area, especially the affected families, that the government will extend all possible help and measures to the state government,” the Union health minister told reporters here.

According to a release issued by the district administration on Sunday evening, 93 children have died so far at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) and the Kejriwal hospital in Muzaffarpur. Out of these, 76 children have died at SKMCH.

State government officials, however, maintained that majority of the victims had died due to hypoglycemia, a condition caused by very low level of blood sugar and electrolyte imbalance.

Acknowledging the paucity of paediatric ICU at SKMCH, he announced that the medical college will have a 100-bed paediatric ICU in a separate building that will be constructed within the same campus in a year. A “state-of-the-art” research centre will also come up at Muzaffarpur, he said.

Attributing heat and humidity as a possible reason behind the disease, the minister said the Ministry of Earth Sciences would help formulate an action plan with the state government to deal with the situation. The India Meteorological Department’s observatory in Muzaffarpur will be also be upgraded, he said.

Vardhan asked health officials to expedite and complete the super-specialty block of the SKMCH, so that other departments of the facility could extend help and cooperation in tackling with the disease.

The minister said he met around 100 ailing children at the medical facility and their parents. “I went through each individual’s case sheet,” he said.

Seven children admitted at SKMCH and four in Kejriwal hospital were stated to be in serious condition, the release said. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has already announced Rs 4 lakh ex gratia to the next of the kin of the deceased.

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