Patna: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday stressed the need for research on Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) that has caused the deaths of 84 children so far in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district.
"There should be research to identify the disease that is still not identified and for that research facility should be developed in Muzaffarpur," Harsh Vardhan said after visiting the state-owned Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH).
Harsh Vardhan, accompanied by Union Minister of State for Health Ashwani Kumar Choubey and Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey, visited Muzaffarpur where 84 children have died due to AES in the past fortnight.
Harsh Vardhan said all branches of the medical sector should work together to control the outbreak of the disease. "We should also work with international organisations to contain the dusease."
He said all children in the affected areas should be immunised and people should be sensitised about the disease.
Harsh Vardhan, who reviewed the situation, said the Central government has been assisting the state government to control the situation after outbreak of the AES.
"The Central government will provide all possible help including financial to the state to control the situation, provide proper treatment and develop infrastructure needed for it."
"It is shocking and painful that children are dying. I have felt the pain and grief of the parents," he said.
He said that a new 100-bed Intensive Care Unit will be set up in SKMCH within a year to provide proper treatment to patients with AES symptoms.
"A timeline has been decided to work to contain and control the disease", he said.
He said that biological laboratories in Muzaffarpur will be upgraded and new labs would be set up in the state including at AIIMS Patna.
Harsh Vardhan said hot weather with high humidity are also one of the main reasons for the outbreak of AES.
"I have discussed AES outbreak with doctors and health officials, taken an overall comprehensive view and directed them that such situations are not repeated," he said.
He said that he has personally seen all seriously-ill children undergoing treatment, met their parents, and discussed with them about their problems.
"I have also discussed about AES in Muzaffarpur with top health officials."
The situation is still alarming as two children undergoing treatment in SKMCH died during the visit of Harsh Vardhan.
"It is my appeal to people to take care of their children, do not allow them to go outside in scorching sun during hot summer. Ensure to give water to children and if they develop any symptoms akin to AES they should brought to the hospital immediately without delay."
However, unofficial deaths due the disease are said to be over 100 as some children died in villages before being admitted to hospital.
Meanwhile SKMCH and a private hospital in the city continue to receive fresh cases with symptoms akin to AES. The two hospitals are reverberating with the cries and wails of helpless parents as children continue to die of AES.
According to reports, two children died in Begusarai district and three died in East Champaran district on Saturday.