SC to hear plea for measures to check outbreak of AES

Children showing symptoms of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) being treated at a hospital in Muzaffarpur district, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. (PTI Photo)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to consider on June 24 a plea by two advocates for a direction to the Centre to send a team of medical experts to check outbreak of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in Bihar's Muzaffarpur that has so far claimed lives of more than 128 children.

A bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant posted the PIL for hearing on Monday on a request for urgent consideration.

In their petition, advocates Manohar Pratap and Sanpreet Singh Ajmani contended the state and central governments have been constantly ignoring the deaths of young children which are exceeding in thousands in numbers every year.

"The children are losing their lives in
scores due to unavailability of medicines, proper care and lack of intensive care units in the hospitals of the area," their petition stated.

The Centre as well as the state government should immediately arrange 500 intensive care units with required medical professionals to deal
with the emergent situation due to outbreak of the disease, the petitoner-advocate said.

They alleged there was complete failure of state machinery to deal with the wide outbreak of AES or Chamki Bukhar.

The strikes of the doctors on issue of their safety has co-incidentally collided with the outbreak of the diseases which is also affecting the proper care of the patients, the plea added.

“There is no availability of doctors, beds, intensive care units, medical professionals to deal with an epidemic level situation which has resulted in more than 126 reported death of children in state of Bihar particularly in Muzaffarpur and its adjoining areas,” the plea said.

The petitioners quoted media reports which reported that the Superintendent of SK Medical College, Muzaffarpur, where most of the affected children are being treated has expressed his inability to cure the affected children due to acute shortage of medical facilities.

They contended the state government must be directed to grant compensation of Rs 10 Lakhs to surviving members of family of deceased who have died due
to "negligence of the state machinery".

They said all possible preventive steps must be taken by the Centre, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh governments to stop the outbreak of the said disease which had seen Gorakhpur as its epicenter earlier.

The petitioners said directions should be issued to widely publish and advertise the preventive steps and first aid which requires to be given to patient in case of AES.

The governments must set up a fact-finding team to determine the negligence on the part of concerned people in mass death of children, they said.

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