Even as Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government struggles to tackle the deadly Encephalitis outbreak that has killed over 100 children, a shocking video has surfaced online that shows the brazen callousness of the administration. At a press meet to discuss the steps taken to contain the outbreak, Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey was caught on camera on Sunday enquiring about latest score of India, Pakistan cricket match at Manchester. In a video posted by news agency ANI, Pandey can be clearly heard asking for the match updates. "How many wickets have fallen till now?" he was heard asking, to which he received the answer: "Four wickets."
#WATCH Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey asks for latest cricket score during State Health Department meeting over Muzaffarpur Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) deaths. (16.6.19) pic.twitter.com/EVenx5CB6G— ANI (@ANI) June 17, 2019
All this happened while Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan and another senior minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey were talking about steps taken by both Centre and state government in aftermath of the outbreak. In another instance, Choubey was seen napping during a meet to discuss children’s deaths.
The Acute Encephalitis Syndrome made its deadly comeback in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur this year. As of present records, 107 kids have died in the district. In 2014 also, similarly high number of deaths were reported from Bihar. 139 children were killed five years ago.
Encephalitis is a viral disease that causes flu-like symptoms such as high fever, convulsions and headaches in patients. The state health department has cited hypoglycemia, a condition caused by very low levels of blood sugar, as one of the main reasons for the deaths.
On Monday, Union Minister Harsh Vardhan 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 children’s deaths. The health minister also 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.
The inter-disciplinary 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.