A failing state (Indian Express)
Mains Paper 2 : Heath
Prelims level : Acute encephalitis syndrome
Mains level : Details about Acute encephalitis syndrome
- The death of children in Muzaffarpur due to AES, a preventable disease,
shows that malnutrition needs to be addressed urgently.
- More than 100 children in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district have died of
acute encephalitis syndrome (AES), with the state’s medical authorities
initially blaming the deaths on the heat wave, hypoglycemia (sudden drop in
blood sugar levels) and lack of awareness.
- Now, belatedly, they have acknowledged the two most critical reasons for
the deaths malnutrition and the inadequacy of primary health centres (PHCs).
- The state government’s lack of preparedness is indefensible.
- AES has struck Muzaffarpur with regularity in the summers since 1995.
- The disease claimed nearly 1,000 children between 2010 and 2014. It
seemed to have become less virulent after 2014.
Study on AES
- In 2014 study by researchers from the Christian Medical College, Vellore,
and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta in the US
showed how a combination of factors, unique to Muzaffarpur, sharpened the
vulnerability of its children to the disease.
- The district is a major litchi-growing region and the study found that
toxins present in the fruit were a source of AES.
- But the fruit was a triggering factor only in the case of children who
had not received proper nutrition, the study reported.
- It said that the toxins in the fruit assume lethal proportions when a
poorly-nourished child eats litchis during the day and then goes to sleep
without a proper meal.
- The links between the fruit and AES have been debated but most
researchers agree that the disease affects only under-nourished children.
Poorly Equipped PHCs
- Medical literature has also shown that AES can be contained if the child
is administered dextrose within four hours of the onset of symptoms.
- But every AES outbreak in the past 10 years has shown that Muzaffarpur’s
PHCs the first point of healthcare for most AES patients — are ill-equipped
to deal with the disease.
- Most of them do not have glycometers to monitor blood sugar levels.
- The Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, the designated hospital in
Muzaffarpur to deal with the disease, do not have a virology lab or adequate
number of paediatric beds.
- However, the state government has not taken the cue from medical
- It does not have a special nutrition programme for AES-prone areas
Q.1) With respect to “Autism spectrum disorders (ASD)”, consider the
1. According to WHO there is a evidence of a link between
measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism spectrum disorders.
2. It is a lifelong condition which usually occurs in the first three years of
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both 1 and 2
Q.1) The death of children in Muzaffarpur due to AES, a preventable
disease, shows that malnutrition needs to be addressed urgently. Comment.
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