AES: Centre assures 100-bed child unit, research centre

AES death aftermath

A child shows symptoms of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) undergoes treatment at a hospital, in Muzaffarpur, Monday, June 17, 2019. The death toll rose to 100 in Muzaffarpur and the adjoining districts in Bihar. PTI

Drawing flak for AES deaths in Bihar, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday announced setting up a 100-bed paediatric ICU at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital in Muzaffarpur to take care of such cases in future.

Also, 10-bed paediatric ICUs will be set up in the adjoining districts with support from the central government to ensure better and exclusive treatment for AES cases without exerting an extra load on the Muzaffarpur hospital.

In addition, Vardhan sent a seven-member team of medical researchers to the eastern state to do the ground work for setting up a multidisciplinary research establishment at Muzaffarpur to establish the possible causes behind the AES and find out suitable interventions.

The team comprises researchers from All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru and Indian Council of Medical Research institutions.

“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, the cycle of disease, environmental factors and meteorological data, besides other factors”, Vardhan stated.

For more than two decades, AES in Bihar remained a mystery disease even though six years ago, a very senior Indian researcher and his collaborators furnished evidence of Muzaffarpur AES being caused by a toxic substance in lychee when the fruits were consumed in bulk quantities by malnourished kids.

The researches pressed for continuing with the studies to understand the disease dynamics better in order to design a suitable therapy. This year 124 kids have been killed by the disease so far.

Vardhan asked the Ministry of Earth Science to upgrade its weather observatory facilities in Bihar for better monitoring of as temperature, humidity, rainfall and heat waves and share the information with the state government and National Centre for Disease Control for better preparedness and management of the AES.

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