Three days after sending notices to Union Health Ministry and Bihar government over increasing encephalitis deaths in Muzaffarpur, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Thursday sent notices to Centre, states over ‘deplorable’ condition of health infrastructure in the country, reported PTI. The notice also expressed concern over the loss of lives in various other parts of the country in recent times.
The commission has also directed its teams comprising doctors, officers to visit hospitals in ‘vulnerable’ states to conduct a fact-finding probe. NHRC has directed the teams to start with Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab to conduct on-the-spot fact-finding investigation, officials said.
“Expressing serious concern over deplorable public health infrastructure in the country, the National Human Rights Commission has today taken suo motu cognisance of a series of media reports about the loss of precious human lives in various parts of the country in recent times, due to deficiencies and inadequacies in the healthcare system,” the rights panel said in a statement.
On Monday, the NHRC had taken suo motu cognizance of media reports about the rising number of deaths of children due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar in the past few days, a senior official had said.
The commission has issued notices to the secretary, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and the Chief Secretary of Bihar, seeking a detailed report, including on the status of implementation of the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Japanese Encephalitis Virus/Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (NPPCJA) and other steps taken to deal with the painful situation, the NHRC said in a statement.
Today’s NHRC notice to the Centre comes even as the death toll due to AES rose to 114 in Muzaffarpur district. The Bihar government has ordered a socio-economic survey of over 450 people whose children have either been affected by or died of the disease.
The rights panel said it has also sent notices to the chief secretaries of all the states and Union Territories to submit their reports within six weeks, giving details of the incidents related to deaths.
On Tuesday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had announced a slew of measures following the outbreak of AES. He assured a flat reimbursement of Rs 400 for patients traveling to the hospital to prevent delay in treatment, and directed an environmental study of affected areas.
-With PTI inputs