Union Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan chaired a meeting of a multi-disciplinary group of experts on Tuesday. The multi-disciplinary group discussed and deliberated on the factors causing high child mortality in the reported AES/JE cases in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar, and further immediate measures to be taken up to prevent child mortality.
In addition to senior officers from the Health Ministry, Ministry of Women and Child Development, experts from AIIMS, NCDC, ICMR, IAP, WHO and CDC were present at the meeting.
Subsequent to the meeting, the Union Minister stated: “In order to gain deeper knowledge into the factors causing high child mortality in Muzaffarpur and neighboring districts of Bihar, where increased cases of AES/JE have been reported, the expert group met and deliberated at length yesterday. We discussed the socio-economic profile of the households which have reported the reported cases, their nutrition profiles, issues such as the ongoing heatwave, reported high percentage of hypoglycemia in the children who have died, the prevailing health infrastructure in the district and other factors that could significantly be considered in these cases”.
Measures to further strengthen the health infrastructure, need for an aggressive awareness campaign in the preceding months when these cases are reported in higher number in order to prevent these cases, need for strengthening the research base to provide sound knowledge on the causes of mortality, active collaboration between the State and Central governments with experts and researchers, were some of the issues taken up for detailed deliberation at the meeting.
“In the spirit of collaborative and cooperative federalism, the Centre is actively supporting the Bihar Government in immediate measures to contain AES/JE and also to search for long term solutions through evidence generated by sound research. Two central multi-disciplinary teams are already stationed in Bihar and supporting the government presently. Senior officers of the Health Ministry are in regular communication with the state government and providing all needed technical and other support”, Dr Harsh Vardhan stated.
During the meeting, Dr Harsh Vardhan has instructed for a permanent multi-disciplinary group of experts to be constituted at the Centre which shall draw experts from NCDC, AIIMS, ICMR, WHO, CDC, IAP, Ministry of Science & Technology, Ministry of Women and Child Development and also include experts in the field of meteorology, nutrition, agricultural science.
The group constituted at the national level will be anchored in the Health Ministry. “The group should meet regularly during the year to monitor the recommendations of the two central expert teams that are presently stationed in Muzaffarpur and deliberate upon their findings and also any suggestions received from other experts in the matter”, the Union Minister has instructed. “This group shall formulate recommendations for measures to be taken up in case of an outbreak and for immediate control, in addition to a long term understanding about its causes so as to prevent the cases”, Dr Harsh Vardhan elaborated.