Encephalitis Deaths in Bihar: Supreme Court admits plea seeking direction to Centre to form a team of experts for treatment of children

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday consented to hear a plea seeking a direction to the Centre to urgently form a team of medical experts for the treatment of the children in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur, who are suffering from suspected Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), which has claimed more than 100 lives.

A vacation bench of justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant agreed to hear the plea on Monday after the petitioner’s counsel sought an urgent listing of the matter.

The plea also sought a direction to the Centre for providing all necessary medical equipment and other supports for the effective treatment of the children suffering from the epidemic disease.

The petition, filed by advocate Manohar Pratap, insisted that he was deeply pained and saddened by the deaths of more than 126 children, mostly in the age group of one to 10 years, in the past week and the figures were rising day by day.

“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 epidemical situation which arises every year due to the outbreak of AES also called Japanese encephalitis,” the plea said.

It claimed that thousands of young children were losing their lives yearly from the disease but the governments (state and Centre) had done nothing to prevent its spread.

“This year i.e in 2019, the epicentre of the said disease is Muzaffarpur in Bihar where more than 126 children have lost their lives in the past one week. Media reports show that there is an acute shortage of doctors, medical facilities, intensive care units and other medical equipment in the hospitals in nearby areas and children are dying in hospitals due to lack of required facilities,” the petition said.

The petitioner has sought a direction to the Centre for constituting a board of experts in the medical field and immediately sending it to the place of the outbreak i.e. Muzaffarpur, to review and assist the emergency situation.

He has asked the apex court to direct the Centre and the Bihar government for immediately arranging 500 stationary and 100 mobile intensive care units (ICU) with required medical professionals to deal with the patients from the remote areas and the emergency situation which occurred due to the AES outbreak.

The plea has sought a direction to the Bihar government to notify an extraordinary order directing all the private medical institutions in the affected area to admit and provide treatment free of cost to the patients.