The death of over 100 children in just one district of Bihar, namely, Muzaffarpur, from acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) is a blot on the Nitish Kumar Government. Lack of healthcare infrastructure is compounded further by a failure to disseminate basic dos and don’ts which could help prevent several such deaths.
For, if research by a group of scientists a few years ago established that one of the main causes of AES could be the eating of unripe lychees fallen on the ground and then going to sleep hungry, this could have been prevented by warning parents about it. Or at least ensuring that children did not sleep without eating something substantial. It is the toxins in the stomach from the unripe lychees which cause a sharp drop in blood sugar and vomiting. Lack of easily accessible medical facilities often result in deaths even before the patients have reached the hospital.
Also, the shortage of basic health providers and social health activists has meant that the rural poor have remained oblivious to the prime need for good sanitation and personal hygiene in keeping the disease at bay. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar cannot escape blame for failing to deliver basic sanitation and health facilities to the poor.