NHRC notice to Union Health Ministry and Govt. of Bihar over increasing deaths of children due to Encephalitis

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has 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 since a past few days. Reportedly, on the 17-06-2019, the death toll has gone up to 100. It is also reported that apart from Muzaffarpur, some other districts of the State are also affected.

The Commission has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar and the Secretary, Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, calling for a detailed report in the matter, including the status of implementation of 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 Commission would also like to know about the status of the treatment being provided to the children, who are presently hospitalized and relief/ rehabilitation provided by the State to the aggrieved families. The response is expected within four weeks.

The Commission has observed that in spite of reported measures taken by the government agencies, deaths of children in such a large number indicate towards a possible flaw in the proper implementation of the vaccination and awareness programmes. Not only vaccination but all precautionary measures, such as cleanliness and hygiene, etc. are also required to be taken sincerely to ensure that young kids do not fall prey to the fatal disease. It is a case of violation of human rights of the victim children and their families, as the State appears to have failed to protect the young innocent lives.

Expressing serious concern over the spread of fatal viral infection, it has further observed that Encephalitis has claimed lives of a large number of children in India. Sometimes back, the Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh suffered a lot due to Japanese Encephalitis when about 60 children had lost a life. The Commission was informed that the Government of India has introduced National Programme for Prevention and Control of Japanese Encephalitis Virus/ Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (NPPCJA). The report mentioned various measures being taken to control the virus.

According to the media reports, while 76 children have died at the SKMCH, 17 deaths have been recorded at the Kejriwal Matrisadan, since January this year. As per the report, currently, 115 patients are being treated at the two hospitals. It is also mentioned that the State Health Minister has sent a team of doctors and an adequate number of paramedical staff from Patna to Muzaffarpur. The Union Health Minister had visited Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) in Muzaffarpur on the 16-06-2019.

[Dated: 17-06-2019]

National Human Rights Commission

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