Encephalitis deaths: High level multi-disciplinary team deployed to Muzaffarpur

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New Delhi: Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan on Monday issued directions for sending a high-level multi-disciplinary team to Bihar’s Muzaffarpur where 103 children died due to encephalitis.

The Union Health and Family Welfare Minister, upon his return from Muzaffarpur, has reviewed the situation arising from the reported cases of AES/JE in Bihar in a high-level meeting today.

During the review meeting, the Health Minister directed for another high-level multi-disciplinary team to be sent to Bihar immediately. The team will undertake the necessary groundwork for setting up a state-of-the-art multi-disciplinary research centre at Muzaffarpur.

“To establish the cause of the disease, there is an urgent need for an interdisciplinary, high-quality research team.  The research team shall work with the children suffering from AES/JE looking at various aspects including periodicity, cycle of disease, environmental factors and metrological data, besides other factors”, Harsh Vardhan stated.

The interdisciplinary team consists of experts from ICMR, Delhi; NIMHANS, Bangalore; National Institute of Malaria Research; National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad; National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune; National Institute of Epidemiology (NIE) Chennai and AIIMS, Delhi.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan also said that five virological labs will be set up in different districts in the state. The location of the district can be decided in consultation with the State Government and can be funded through NHM, he stated.

In one of the decisions taken during his visit, Dr. Harsh Vardhan has instructed to set up a 100-bedded paediatric ICU at SKMCH by the State Government.Also, in the adjoining districts, 10 bedded paediatric ICUs will be set up with support from the Centre, so that such cases can be given better and exclusive treatment and there is no unnecessary load on the facilities available at SKMCH.

Emphasising the need for early detection and treatment of hypoglycemia cases, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that a dedicated team of doctors should be placed in endemic PHCs with required facilities at least for 3 to 4 months before and during onset of disease and they may be incentivised under NHM appropriately. As for present, the concerned PHCs and CHCs should take prompt corrective measures for hypoglycaemia at the facility itself to utilize the golden hour, he added.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan also said that Ministry of Earth Science will be requested to upgrade its IMD observatory facility for improved monitoring of climate-related parameters such as temperature humidity, rainfall, heat waves, etc., and share it with the State Government and NCDC for better preparedness and management of AES.

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