SC agrees to hear plea on Bihar AES deaths as toll touches 126

SC agrees to hear plea on Bihar AES deaths as toll touches 126

The Supreme Court Wednesday agreed to hear a writ petition on the deaths of over 100 children in Bihar’s Muzzafarpur district due to an outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES). A vacation bench of justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant agreed to hear the plea on Monday, June 24 after the petitioner’s counsel sought an urgent listing of the matter.

The plea filed by advocate Manohar Pratap sought direction to the Centre to urgently constitute a team of medical experts for treatment of children who have been affected by AES in Bihar. The petitioner also sought that all necessary medical equipment be provided by the Centre for the effective treatment of the children.

“The deaths of children are a direct result of negligence and inaction on the part of the respective state governments of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Union of India in handling the epidemic situation which arises every year due to the outbreak of AES,” the plea stated, according to a report by PTI.

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Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar along with his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi had visited the SK Medical College and Hospital on Tuesday. State Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar told reporters in Patna that the CM was satisfied with medical facilities at SKMCH. Nitish also ordered 24-hour availability of doctors to deal with emergency situation, the chief secretary added.

AES is a broad term involving several infections and affects young children. The syndrome can be caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi. In India, the most common cause is the virus that causes Japanese encephalitis (JE). Health Ministry estimates attribute 5-35% of AES cases to the JE virus. In the latest outbreak in Muzaffarpur, the cause is yet to be clinically identified in most of the children.