The mortality rate due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) cases in Bihar has come down significantly due to strategic interventions made by the central government, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Tuesday.
Holding a review meeting on the status of AES cases, he said a round-the-clock point-of-care testing facility has been set up at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) in Muzaffarpur, Bihar to monitor vital parameters of patients such as blood gases, electrolytes, lactate etc.
The hospital has accounted for 111 casualties due to AES, the maximum number in the state, since June 1.
"This facility is being further strengthened by deployment of biochemists and technicians from central government hospitals in Delhi," Vardhan said.
In the past 48 hours, there have been only five AES related admissions at SKMCH, he said.
The minister said diagnostics have also been strengthened at the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in Bihar and a portable X-ray with Computed Radiography (CR) digital is being set up to access reports immediately within the ICU.
A portable USG and ECHO set up for PICU is also fully functional round-the-clock, he said.
Vardhan said the 15-member central team of doctors and para-medics will be replaced by a team with similar strength for further 10 days, ensuring continuity of care of admitted cases.
"The team will oversee and support the state government for management of AES cases at SKMCH," he said, adding the multi-disciplinary team deployed by the Department of Health Research will continue to work on varied aspects of research concerning AES.
Satish Kumar, Vector Borne Disease Officer, Muzaffarpur, said, "High level of awareness on precaution and adherence among people like not allowing children to play in the sun, taking bath regularly, ensuring dinner before going to bed and administration of ORS have helped in keeping the cases (of AES) to the minimum."
The volunteers used the public address system and spread awareness through tempos and rickshaws. Essential material like ORS was delivered to every household. Each household was visited to give them information about the medical services available in primary health centres. This work continues till date, he said.
The Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) and Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANMs) continue to share information in every possible way, including videos, so that the region continues to remain free of AES, Kumar said.
Kanchan Mala, a community volunteer, said, "We went from door-to-door and informed everyone about AES prevention and did this much before the present crisis began."
Anita Kumari, an ASHA worker, said, "We know that as soon as summer sets in and the heat increases, children succumb to AES and if we are not on our toes, the cases keep increasing and some even die.
"To avert this, we began to inform, educate and make the community aware about how to prevent it."
The Health Ministry also commended the work of volunteers in making Turki village in Bihar AES-free.