Union minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday issued directions for immediately sending another high-level team to Bihar’s Muzaffarpur to set up a state-of-the-art multi-disciplinary research centre in the wake of deaths of 103 children due to suspected encephalitis.
The health minister reviewed the situation at a high-level meeting which was attended by senior officers of the Health Ministry, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and AIIMS.
Vardhan on Sunday visited the families of the children suffering from suspected acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in Bihar where doctors’ strike has paralysed medical and health services.
“The Union health minister has directed for another high-level multi-disciplinary team to be sent to Bihar immediately. The team will undertake the necessary groundwork for setting up a state-of-the-art multi-disciplinary research centre at Muzaffarpur,” the ministry said in a statement.
“To establish the cause of the disease, there is an urgent need for an inter-disciplinary, high-quality research team. The research team shall work with the children suffering from AES/JE looking at various aspects including periodicity, the cycle of disease, environmental factors and metrological data, besides other factors,” Vardhan stated.
The interdisciplinary team consists of experts from ICMR, Delhi, NIMHANS, Bangalore, National Institute of Malaria Research and National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, National Institute of Epidemiology (NIE) Chennai and AIIMS, Delhi.
The members include Dr Jhuma Sankar, Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at AIIMS, Dr V Ravi, Senior Professor of NeuroVirology at NIMHANS and Dr Abhinav Sinha, Scientist in National Institute of Malaria Research.
Vardhan also said five virological labs will be set up in different districts in the state. The districts can be decided in consultation with the state government and can be funded through the National Health Mission (NHM), he said.
In one of the decisions taken during his visit, Vardhan instructed to set up a 100-bed paediatric ICU at SKMCH. Also, in the adjoining districts, 10-bed paediatric ICUs will be set up with support from the Centre, so that such cases can be given better and exclusive treatment and there is no unnecessary load on the facilities available at SKMCH, the statement said.