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The Epidemic of encephalitis in Bihar discloses its awful healthcare infrastructure

CM Nitish Kumar made his first visit to a hospital at Muzaffarpur this Tuesday

Muzzafarpur,(Bihar), June 20 (UITV): Bihar is the centre of a health calamity. Since June 5, 113 children have perished due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) but this year it has surpassed the number near to 120 deaths till now. The disease is striking by inflammation of the brain, high fever, stroke, unconsciousness and death. Underfed children are repeatedly the badly afflicted. Since the epidemic started prior to this month, Chief Minister Shri Nitish Kumar made his first visit to a hospital at Muzaffarpur on this Tuesday. At this specific hospital 91 children have perished and presently more than 300 are undergoing treatment for the disease. Outside the hospital, he faced the heat of angry protestors and redicals annoyed with inactivity from the government. The Health Survey carried by an NGO summarizes the condition in the grief striken state – “Since the standard of health protection needs a boost throughout the country, the convergence of frailities in Bihar – from malnourishment to poverty- stricken sanitation and worsening administrative control – is justifying deadly. Nitish reuires to arrive the level of administration, especially medical management.” This episode in one of the country’s impoverished states maintains more difficulties for those concerned to undergo treatment. In India, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are the most badly influenced by this fatal disease. According to the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, in 2018, more than 600 people passed away across the country due to AES with more than 10,000 cases noticed. Seeing the rise in deaths, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Monday sent notices to the Union Health Ministry and the Bihar government requesting a comprehensiove review on the condition.

The root of the disease isn’t one certain fctor.But a result of a combination of factors – a severe heat wave attacking the state which has killed 90 people of dehydration, starvation among children, and a particular chemical found in litchis. The fruit contains Methylene cyclopropyl-glycine (MCPG) which hits the body’s potential to mix sugar. Eating this on an empty stomach leads to low blood sugar levels and swelling inside the brain. The government would have taken effective initiatives to block malnourishment in children coming from  rural areas for this can be a avoidable method furhter as the Health Survey report states – “The connects between the fruit and AES have been under dispute but most researchers agree that the disease attacks specifically malnourished children. However, the state government has not taken the prompt hint from the medical research. It does not even have a planned particular nutrition programme for AES-prone areas.” Responding to the emergency in Bihar, the centre has stepped in. The Union Health Ministry has asked for the development of a persistent integrative group to discuss and approach the health catastrophe. This group will comprise of authorities from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC),World Health Organisation (WHO), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR),All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), among others. Indian healthcare is spoiled by a severe scarcity in basic infrastructure. With reference to the Lancet’s Access to Healthcare Study from 2018, India ranks 145th among 195 countries studied when it comes to obtaining quality healthcare. This includes primary care and medical equipment. An ordinary sight is hospitals overloaded with patients evenmany not having admittance to beds.

The way to avoid this disease is apparently rather simple to execute. Safeguarding children have genuine wholesome meals. As the prime origin of the disease seems to be the litchi fruit, which is grown in the peak summer months between April and June, it is necessary that the government be ready for all circumstances. Seeing this catastophe, the Odisha Health Minister Naba Kishore Das has ordered officials to determine the toxic content of litchi fruits that are being sold in the state. Was this a failure of goernment? Not sure, according to Prabhat Kumar Sinha, former Dean at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences. Commenting on the the survey, he quotes the contraction in the number of AES cases in Bihar. He says in part, “this year’s epidemic of encephalitis is something that no one could anticipate. In cases of such epidemics, there is very little that can be done.” The first case of AES in the region was noticed in 1995 in Muzaffarpur. The number of deaths in the region is because of the disease that has been on the decline; from 355 in 2014 to 11 in 2017 and 7 last year. Bouncing on Prabhat Sinha’s point, T. Jacob John, retired professor of Virology rom CMC Vellore, in a column wrote on the unusually high numbers this time. He writes on how he was part of a group that probed the disease from 2012-2014 and accepted the decline in deaths – “I don’t know what went wrong this year. In 2015, all key health centres were provided with glucometers to examine the blood glucose levels of sick children. Glucometers have not been preserved well. Health education was not supported.” With this current outbreak, it is vital that two factors must occur on parallel tracks – the present condition must be controlled anyhow and the grating lessons learnt from this incident must prepare the government to avoid and be equipped if such an eruption does arise. A decrease in the number of cases cannot be used acceptably as a defence.