Patna, June 9: Bihar health minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey today sought to deflect the blame for the death of children suffering from suspected encephalitis on the Centre, alleging that the Uni-on government had failed to provide the state with Japanese encephalitis vaccines.
“We had asked the Centre to provide us with 50 lakh Japanese encephalitis vaccines so that we could launch a mass vaccination drive. But the vaccines have not been made available to us till now,” he said in Gaya.
The minister visited the Anugrah Narayan Medical College and Hospital (ANMCH) in Gaya and Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) in Muzaffarpur, the two health hubs from where the maximum number of suspected encephalitis cases has been reported. Incidentally, health officials are yet to diagnose the “actual disease” and only two of the hundred-odd cases have been confirmed as Japanese encephalitis.
In the state capital, two more children suffering from acute encephalitis syndrome were admitted to Patna Medical College and Hospital. Altogether 35 children from 12 districts were earlier admitted to the hospital.
Choubey said the state government was trying to set up a branch of Pune-based National Institute of Virology in Gaya. Altogether 10 children have died at ANMCH of suspected acute encephalitis syndrome, including diseases such as meningitis.
On Friday night, Choubey visited SKMCH and admitted that children were dying of acute encephalitis syndrome in Muzaffarpur. The minister said the 34 children who have died so far belonged to the lower strata of society.
On the other hand, workers and supporters of the RJD’s youth wing burnt Chou-bey’s effigy in Patna seeking his resignation for the govern-ment’s “failure” to check the disease. LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan and RJD state president Ram Chandra Purbey also visited SKMCH.