Flood catastrophe marooned 1.7 crore people in Assam & Bihar catastrophe

Source: reliefweb.int

The death toll in Bihar and Assam floods has mounted to 198. More than 1.17 crore people were displaced in the devastating floods.

Around 8,246 villages are reported to have been affected in both the states. Rivers like Brahmaputra and Ganges submerged 30 districts in Assam and 12 districts in Bihar.

A Rapid Need Assessment (RNA) was conducted by Caritas India, Christian Aid, Adra with the support of Inter-Agency Group (IAG) members and district officials from Government of Assam and Bihar to access the situation. The assessment was done in 6 districts of Assam (Lakhimpur, Morigaon, Chirang, Kamrup, Barpeta & Dhemaji) and 4 districts of Bihar (Sitamarhi, Madhubani, Purnea & Araria).

The assessment revealed that 90% families in Assam and 50% families in Bihar have no access to safe drinking water. All the drinking water sources i.e. open wells and handpumps (apart from the few raised ones) are already contaminated. The need for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene is essential to circumvent the offset of any major public health challenges.

The assessment of damaged houses discovered that 31% families in Assam and 11% families in Bihar completely lost their houses. In view of the monsoon season, 44% families in Assam and 10% families in Bihar are in need of immediate shelter support and Non-Food Items such as tarpaulin, bed sheets, blankets, mosquito nets, ropes, and ground mats.

Bimala Brahma, 65-year-old survivor from Dwimugori village of Chirang is traumatized of her loss. “I had a small piece of land where I had cultivated paddy which is gone underwater”, narrates Bimala when asked about her source of livelihood. After her husband’s death she used to stay alone in her small house which was also taken away by this flood. The need for psychosocial support is felt as people still could not recover from their loss.

The team has also recommended for burgeoning (post disaster) market system, cash-based programming to ensure that the choice of building back better remains firmly in the hands of the affected communities

In Assam alone, 1.79 lakh hectare of crop area was destroyed leading to the heavy loss of livelihood and source of income. The damage data of Bihar is still unavailable due to inaccessibility of the government in the target districts because of the severity of the floods. Most vulnerable communities like dalits, mahadalits and adivasis have lost their kharif crop which has created a deficit in the food security and a potential negative impact on their survival.

Educational institutions also suffered partial or entire damage. Most of the schools are being used as shelter homes by the affected/displaced population. Children reported that they have lost their certificates and other academic documents in the floods. There is a need for safe child centres spaces (CCS) that would benefit the affected children from physical and mental abuse, trafficking and for immediate future.

Caritas India Executive Director, Fr. Paul Moonjely appeals to all the people of goodwill to come out openly and support the cause of the victims who are affected by this massive flood, both in Assam and Bihar. Based on the report findings Caritas have started its response in Morigaon, Kamrup, Chirang & Lakhimpur districts of Assam and Sitamarhi of Bihar supporting 7500 families with WaSH support and hygiene promotion. Caritas India also planning to provide 3000 shelter kits in Bihar. Fr. Paul shared that Caritas India will come out with more support in the days to come to reach out to more families with livelihood and shelter support.

Caritas India is reviewing the situation every minute to access the damage and plan further intervention. Fr. Jolly, Assistant Director, and Fr. Sushil Modi, Administrator of Caritas India has made an emergency visit to Assam and Bihar respectively to express the solidarity and plan for humanitarian interventions.

Bihar to have 11 More Medical Colleges; Says Health Minister

Source: patnadaily.com

Patna: Ignoring the fact that nearly 200 children had died in Bihar due to outbreak of the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in the recent months in the state and the fact that Bihar hospitals remain more under lockdown due to strike by junior doctors and nurses and there is a serious crisis of doctors in nearly all state hospitals, Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey on Wednesday announced the government’s decision to open 11 new medical colleges in Bihar.

Reacting to the opposition’s demand of resignation in the wake of the death of children due to AES, Pandey, without mentioning anything about improving the conditions of the existing hospitals in Bihar where just as recent as last week flood water had entered in the general ward forcing the patients to be moved to different locations, said that the government was planning to open 11 new hospitals in the state. He also repeated the pledge of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who had recently said that the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) will be turned into a ‘world-class’ hospital with 5000 beds in it.

The Health Minister was speaking at Vidhan Sabha about Rs. 96,000,000,000 (96 arab+) budget of the health department that was passed despite pandemonium by the opposition leaders who continued to demand his resignation in the wake of the AES-related deaths.

“Work has already begun on the 500-bed hospital in the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) in Patna and a proposal to build a 1200-bed hospital is also in the pipeline. Another plan includes building of a brand-new mental hospital in Koelwar with a capacity of 272 beds and hospitals with 50 to 100 bed capacity is being built in 14 blocks in various districts,” he said.

Other plans include building of a second All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Bihar, a 100-bed children hospital in Muzaffarpur, a cancer hospital with a price tag of Rs. 200 crore, and building of a disease control center inside Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH) campus, the minister said.

100-bed paediatric ICU to be set up in SKMCH, Muzaffarpur within a year: Centre to SC

Source: asianage.com

New Delhi: The Centre on Monday filed a reply in the Supreme Court on the AES outbreak in Bihar, saying that a decision has been taken to set up a 100-bedded paediatric ICU at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) in Muzaffarpur in one year with funds from it.

Five virology labs were set up in different districts of the state and 10-bedded paediatric ICUs will also be established in different districts, it said.

The reply submitted that despite the fact that health is a state subject, the central government had taken all steps for giving necessary help and assistance to the Bihar government to contain the outbreak.

The death toll due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) mounted to 140 in Muzaffarpur district on Friday.

As per official data, 119 deaths have been reported at the government-run SKMCH, which is handling the largest number of patients in the district, while 21 deaths have been confirmed at Kejriwal Hospital.

The state has been battling with the vector-borne disease for the past several weeks.

AES is a viral disease that causes flu-like symptoms such as high fever, vomiting and in extreme cases, brain dysfunction, seizure, and inflammation of heart and kidney.

The Supreme Court had on June 24 expressed “serious concern” over the rising number of deaths due to the disease.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of the children who died due to AES.

Bihar: Bootleggers use ambulance to smuggle liquor

Source: gulfnews.com

Patna: Bootleggers have gotten innovative while smuggling alcohol into “dry” Bihar. The state imposed a total prohibition, banning the sale, consumption and manufacture of liquor three years ago.

On Friday, police seized an ambulance that was transporting 33 cartons of foreign liquor, sirens blaring and with the emergency light on, in a bid to mislead cops. The incident took place in Patna, the capital city of Bihar.

Police received a tip-off that a huge consignment of liquor was being supplied in the Raja Bazar area of the state capital through an ambulance. A team of police put a barrier on the road and began checking vehicles passing through the route in the wee hours of Friday.

However, as soon as the ambulance driver saw the police checking vehicles, he switched on the siren and asked other vehicles to give way saying the condition of the patient was critical. However, when the police checked inside the vehicle, they found no one inside.

Finally when they removed the bed sheet from the back seat where the patient was believed to have been laid, police found as many as 33 cartons of foreign liquor. The cartons had been placed in such a position that they gave an impression of a patient lying on the seat. Each bottle contained 750ml of liquor.

The police arrested the driver, and based on his testimony, the police recovered 15 cartons of liquor from the house of a smuggler.

In March, police seized a container truck with Dak Parcel written on it in bold letters. However, when the police checked, they stumbled upon 370 cartons of liquor.

Similarly, in Kaimur district, police busted a gang that had been smuggling liquor in tubes used in tyres of big vehicles. Another man was caught filling liquor in cycle tubes and wrapping them around his stomach and chest.

In Gopalganj district, the station house officer was arrested for selling liquor from his police station. He had converted his official residence into a virtual storeroom.

In the initial days of the liquor ban, the police found a gang that was running an illegal business from a Hindu temple in the Munger district. The gang would store liquor bottles in a bunker dug inside the temple dedicated to the deity Durga and then stealthily supply alcohol to clients.

The ingenious mind of criminals was on display when police arrested two people who were using a cash van bearing the sticker of a nationalised bank to transport liquor. The incident took place in the Darbhnaga district.

The most interesting incident took place in Patna where the police arrested a man identified as Avinah Kumar alias Monika Kumari who used to run the liquor business dressed up as woman. He would dress up as woman, wearing saris, a bindi, jewellery, eyeliner and glossy lipstick and did his business with ease.

As per an official report, more than 3 million litres of liquor have been seized during raids conducted in the aftermath of prohibition. Apart from this, 130,000 people have also been arrested and sent to jail for violating the liquor ban.

AES in Bihar: Providing all support to contain it, Centre tells SC

Source: business-standard.com

The Centre told the Supreme Court Wednesday that it was proactively providing all support to Bihar in containing and managing Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in which more than children have died.

In an affidavit filed on a plea seeking measures for containment of the disease, the Centre said Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had visited Bihar on June 16, to review the situation in Muzaffarpur.

It said that after the visit several decisions were taken including construction of a 100 bed Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at SKMCH hospital in Muzaffarpur by the state government in one years from the funds of National Health Mission (NHM).

“The land for the same (100-bed Paediatric ICU) is available in the premise of the SKMCH hospital and will be provided by the state,” the affidavit said.

It said a decision has been taken to set up five virology labs in different districts of the state from the NHM funds and the location of the districts will be decided in consultation with the state government.

Detailing further decisions taken, the Centre said: “In the adjoining districts, 10-bed Paediatric ICUs to be setup so that such cases can be treated early and there is no unnecessary load on the facilities available at SKMCH. Funds for this are to be provided through NHM.”

The ministry said that to enable early detection and treatment of the hypoglycemia cases, a dedicated team of doctors will be placed in endemic Primary Health Centres with required facilities, at least for three-four months before and during expected onset of disease.

“As for present, the concerned PHCs and CHCs (Community Health Centres) should take prompt corrective measures for hypoglycemia at the facility itself to utilize the golden hour”, the affidavit said.

It said that a Super Speciality Block is being constructed at SKMCH hospital, Muzaffarpur and it would start functioning by first week of December.

Besides these steps, the affidavit said that Ministry of Earth Sciences has been requested to upgrade its IMD Observatory facility for improved monitoring of climate related parameters such as temperature humidity, rainfall and share it with the state government for better preparedness and management of AES.

It said the minister has decided to constitute inter-disciplinary, high quality research team for ascertaining the case of AES with specific reference to Muzaffarpur.

“The vacant positions of district epidemiologist and entomologist in Muzaffarpur to be filled up immediately by the state government,” the health ministry said added that health is a state subject as per the Constitutional provisions.

The apex court is hearing a petition filed by advocate Manohar Pratap who has said 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 Bihar due to AES.

Besides Centre, the apex court had also asked Bihar government to file its response on the issue.

In a shocking revelation about medical care facilities in Bihar, which is facing an outbreak of acute encephalitis syndrome, the state government Tuesday told the Supreme Court that there are only 5,205 doctors in government-run health centres against the sanctioned strength of 12,206.

The state government, in an affidavit filed in the apex court, said that only 5,634 nurses were there in government run hospitals and health centres against sanctioned strength of 19,155.

The court had on June 24 directed the state to apprise it about the status of public medical care facilities, nutrition and sanitation within a week in view of deaths of over 100 children in Muzaffarpur due to the outbreak of AES.

Regarding AES cases, the state government said 824 cases have been reported and the number of deaths was 157.

It, however, said that it was not known whether 24 deaths out of 215 cases were due to AES.

“State of Bihar had already taken all possible steps to prevent the spread of the disease by providing additional medical facilities at the affected region, public awareness campaign at the village level, involving various agencies to assist the government etc,” it said.

Symptoms of AES include high fever, convulsions and extremely low blood sugar levels. Among the factors said to trigger the syndrome are malnutrition.

There were more than 44,000 cases and nearly 6,000 deaths from encephalitis in India between 2008 and 2014, said a 2017 study published in The Indian Journal of Medical Research (IJMR).

Researchers said the patients often report acute onset of fever and altered consciousness, with a rapidly deteriorating clinical course, leading to death within hours.

Litchis grown in Muzaffarpur, the country’s largest litchi cultivation region, are said to contain a toxin which can cause a drop in blood sugar levels if consumed by a malnourished child.

Free meals planned to fight ‘brain fever’ in India’s Bihar state

Source: gulfnews.com

Patna: Alarmed at the large number of deaths in the state due to encephalitis, the Bihar government is working on a plan to start free evening meals for children vulnerable to the deadly virus.

The idea is based on reports by health experts that most of the children who fell victim to the illness had gone to bed on empty stomachs or had suffered from hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.

According to an official report, the disease has claimed close to 2,000 lives in the past nine years.

“The government is planning to start free evening meals for children on the pattern of the mid-day meal from the next season and also shifting them to temporary shelter homes during the peak summer when such cases register a huge jump,” federal minister of state for home and family welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey told the media on Monday after holding a meeting with the experts.

However, the arrangement for free evening meal will be available only for two months during peak summer. Experts have found that the disease strikes the region once the summer starts and turns deadlier with the picking up of daytime temperatures.

Although some 20 districts are said to be in the grip of this disease, Muzaffarpur has been the worst-hit of all.

According to him, the government would also be making adequate arrangements of glucose, oral rehydration solution (ORS) and medicines.

“After meeting with the health experts, we have ordered the setting up of intensive care units (ICUs) in the affected areas from next year,” the minister said.

Bihar health minister Mangal Pandey on Monday said this year majority of children had died from hypoglycemia, which is one of the symptoms of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).

One of the main reasons behind disease outbreak this year was severe heat conditions and humidity. He advised the parents not to allow their children go out in the open sun.

“When the children play under the open sun, it causes dehydration and affects a child’s intake of food and water which leads to hypoglycemia,” the minister said.

In an official statement issued on Monday, the health minister said the disease has been occurring since 1995 after which various studies were conducted by the National Institute of Virology, Pune, National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, Rajendra Memorial Research Institute, Patna and Centre for Disease Control, Atlanta (USA) but no definitive causative agent has been found so far.

According to the minister, till June 28 this year a total of 720 cases of suspected encephalitis were reported of which 566 were cured whereas 154 children died.

Eight ALS ambulances deployed to transport AES patients in Bihar: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan

Source: zeenews.india.com

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said that eight additional Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulances have been deployed to transport Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) patients in the affected districts of Bihar. He added that the government officials have also started house-to-house active case finding campaign in order to check the outbreak of deadly viral disease. “8 additional Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulances deployed to transport AES (Acute Encephalitis Syndrome)/JE (Japanese Encephalitis) patients in the affected districts. House to house active case finding campaign started,” Harsh Vardhan was quoted as saying by ANI.

It is to be noted that the AES has claimed the lives of over 140 children in Bihar, with over 100 children losing their lives at Sri Krishna Medical College & Hospital (SKMCH) in Muzaffarpur alone. The Union Health Minister said that a team of experts from Indian Council of Medical Research has been deployed at SKMCH hospital in order to make the virology lab operational as soon as possible. Harsh Vardhan noted that multi-disciplinary team deployed earlier in Muzaffarpur is reviewing all the case records of AES patients, who were admitted and treated since the outbreak of deadly disease this year.

“ICMR team of experts has been deployed at SKMCH hospital, Muzaffarpur for making the virology lab operational at the earliest. Multi-disciplinary team deployed earlier is reviewing all the case records of AES patients, admitted and treated in 2019,” said Harsh Vardhan.

It may be recalled that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday visited SKMCH and gave directions to convert the government-run hospital into a 2500-bed facility. Kumar also issued orders saying 1500 new beds for the hospital should be arranged immediately and a ‘dharmshala’ should be build for the relatives and families of the those who are admitted in SKMCH.

Earlier on Thursday, RJD leader Misa Bharti said that no leader from her party will attend the dinner called by Prime Minister today because of deaths of children in Muzaffarpur due to AES. Misa said that medicines and equipment can be bought from the money which the government is going to spent in organising this dinner for parliamentarians.

Encephalitis is a viral disease, which causes mild flu-like symptoms such as high fever, convulsions and headaches and has been claiming lives in the district for the past few weeks.

100 Kids Have Died Due To Encephalitis In Bihar, Govt Seems Clueless About How To Save Them

Source: indiatimes.com

The death toll due to the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome outbreak in Bihar has reached 100 and despite claims made by state government, the number of deaths are increasing with more and more infected children rushing to the hospitals.

Muzzafurpur district is mainly affected by the outbreak and 83 children have succumbed to Encephalitis at Sri Krishna Medical College while 17 died at Kejriwal hospital. The union health minister Harsh Vardhan visited the Muzaffarpur yesterday  and took stock of the situation. Different media reports said that the minister was shown black flags. However, the minister said he has spoken to  “every concerned individual about this issue”.

The situation turned grim when a five year od child while three minsiters around and this enraged the anger of the parents of the children and they confronted the ministers. Vardhan, however, later held a meeting and assured a research that would be undertaken to ascertain the cause of the disease to order any such outbreak in future. He was quoted News18. 

“I assure the people of the area, especially the affected families, that the government will extend all possible help and measures to the state government,” Vardhan said.

Despite all problems and considering the seriousness of this disease, I appreciate the efforts put in by the doctors to ensure efficient treatment to everyone,” he added.

Nitish Kumar, the CM had also expressed grief over the deaths of the children and announced “an ex gratia payment of Rs. 4 lakh to the next of the kin of those who have died”. The lack of awareness about his to tackle the decease is also the reason for outbreak, the CM said.

The health department of the state has cited hypoglycaemia in which the blood sugar level go down as the main reason behind the deaths of the children. Acute Encephalitis Syndrome is a viral diseases that has symptoms like high fever, convulsions and headaches.

In Bihar, doctors treat patients on floor as hospital tries to cope with rush

Source:hindustantimes.com

So chock-a-block are the wards at Muzaffarpur’s Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital with patients suffering from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) that doctors are being forced to treat children on the floor.

At least 43 of the 50 deaths due to AES in Bihar have taken place at this hospital, with Muzaffarpur being the epicentre of the outbreak. Ten other districts have also been affected.

Sri Krishna hospital medical superintendent Sunil Kumar Shahi said, “We have an in-patient bed strength of only 610 whereas the number of patients admitted to our hospital is around 876. We do not refuse any patient, so we put mattresses to treat them on the floor.”

To cope with the rush of patients, the superintendent has converted all 20 beds of the intensive care unit (ICU) into paediatric intensive care units (PICU).

“If we come across patients, who need to be admitted to ICU, we will admit them in the coronary care unit (CCU). Against 14 existing beds at our PICU, I have converted all our 20 ICU beds into PICU, taking the number of beds in PICU up to 34,” Shahi said.

“Given the disease burden, even the central team which is here has suggested increasing the number of PICU beds to 100,” he added.

The government has ensured the availability of all drugs free of cost to AES patients. Sri Krishna hospital is also providing food to patients as well as their attendants. “Though we are not supposed to provide food to patients in PICU, on the advice of health minister Mangal Pandey and principal secretary, health, Sanjay Kumar, I am supplying milk, supplements, fruit, bread and eggs to all AES patients and their attendants on humanitarian grounds,” said Shahi.

The parents of some children being treated at the hospital are satisfied with the facilities provided. Some of them, including Md Aslam Madan Sahni, Ram Bharos Thakur and Gayatri Devi, are hoping the hospital will start supplying diapers free of cost too.