Patna: S K Memorial government hospital in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district is in news for all the wrong reasons -- over 172 children have died of encephalitis, skeletons have been recovered from the premises…And if that were not enough, a part of the roof outside its Intensive Critical Unit collapsed on Sunday. But thank god for small mercies: no injuries were reported in the incident. The authorities also drew solace from the fact that only a patch of plaster from the roof had fallen off and it did not happen inside any ward but around the verandah area.
But even as this tragedy has unravelled, politicians of all hues have avoided the hospital like plague. Such is the palpable anger that people vent their spleen on a visiting MP and MLA on Sunday morning. The State LJP president and member of Lok Sabha from Hajipur, Pashupagti Kumar Paras, and LJP MLA Rajkumar Sah were ghearoed at Harbanshpur village in Vaishali district. About a dozen children of the village have died of encephalitis with one family losing two sons. More than 250 families have relocated outside the district to shield their children from the lethal disease. Paras and Shah were literally detained by the villagers; they told the MP that he was busy celebrating his victory but could not visit his constituency.
They distressed villagers forced the MLA to remain seated in the village for about an hour. Paras, who is the younger brother of the union food and consumer welfare minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, assured the villagers that he would convey their feelings to the state government. AICC observer Birendra Rathod and Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee president Madan Mohan Jha too faced a hostile crowd at S K Memorial Hospital. They had come to meet the patients, but due to strong protests from the attendants, they could not stay for too long. Attendants claimed the Congress leaders had to the hospital in over 20 vehicles which disturbed the movement of guardians of the patients, too.
S K Shahi, Hospital Superintendent, has put up a notice at the entrance banning entry of outsiders in the wards. The notice said only one attendant per patient is allowed. There is also a ban on movement of mediapersons in the wards. Pre-monsoon rain brought some relief in the encephalitis affected areas of North Bihar on Sunday. According to Dr Shahi, only one patient was brought in; however, one child also died. So far, 178 children have died in the affected districts. Meanwhile, the health department has suspended a paediatrician, Dr Bhimsen Kumar, posted in the intensive care unit of the hospital on charges of negligence.
- CHHAYA MISHRA
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)