Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan Sunday said the Centre would soon start research by experts at Muzaffarpur and Bhagalpur to know the reasons behind deaths due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) and will also open virology labs in five districts.
Dr Harsh Vardhan, who inaugurated the Japanese Encephalitis (JE) vaccination camp at Muzaffarpur on Sunday, said 100 per cent immunisation of children was the topmost priority of the government. He also announced that a 100-bed pediatric ICU would be opened at Muzaffarpur, besides increasing the number of medical seats from 150 to 250 at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH).
After his visit to two Muzaffarpur hospitals with AES-affected patients, the minister who is on three-day Bihar trip said, “One thing was common at both hospital — over 90 per cent children had not got JE vaccine. Though experts are not sure if AES is because of some virus, we have to achieve 100 per cent immunization”. He said most patients also suffered from potassium and sodium imbalance. So far, 154 children have died because of AES. Besides Muzaffarpur, at least five more districts have reported AES cases. Doctors offer symptomatic treatment to the disease which is marked by high fever and convulsions.
He said the Centre had sought a comprehensive report of AES and encephalitis cases from Gorakhpur and Muzaffarpur. “We have been in talks with experts from CDC, Atlanta, WHO and Unicef. They will carry out devoted research in Bihar to help find a permanent solution to AES,” said Dr Harsh Vardhan, who checked some patients himself.