The plea sought direction to them to adequately compensate the families who have lost their children in the present epidemic.
The Supreme Court Monday sought response of the Centre, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh on a PIL seeking urgent steps to control the outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) and provide necessary medical facilities to persons suffering from it. A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta issued notice to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, chief secretaries and secretaries of health of the Bihar and Uttar Pradesh governments on the plea which also sought prompt and free of cost treatment to all the children suffering from AES.
The plea, filed by lawyer Shiv Kumar Tripathi, sought direction to the Centre and state governments to create necessary infrastructure for treatment of the children already suffering from the epidemic disease and prevent its further spread. “Due to complete negligent act of the respondents (Centre and state governments), more than hundreds of children has lost their lives and is still continuing since numbers of deaths are increasing day by day due to AES in north Bihar’s Muzaffarpur District,” it said.
It also sought direction for constitution of a committee of medical experts to find out the reasons for the outbreak of the epidemic and the loss of lives of more than 100 children and to fix responsibility of the persons/entities whose negligence has resulted in the deaths and to submit its report within three months before the apex court.
The plea sought direction to them to adequately compensate the families who have lost their children in the present epidemic. “Due to its high epidemic potential, high case-fatality, it is taking thousand lives annually. The epicentre of said disease in India is eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar… The said disease is completely curable and lives of young children are being lost due to the inaction of the state machinery which has failed to take any steps to prevent the said outbreak,” it claimed.
The plea also sought direction to the respondents to carry out public awareness campaign spreading information amongst the people about the disease and its preventions. “Governments have not taken more campaigns and awareness drives and not any issued serious and effective instructions in this regard as a public enlarge,” it said. The plea further sought direction to immediately send skilled and expert doctors and paramedical staff in the affected areas along with medicines and suitable medical equipments.
The apex court is also seized of another petition in which it 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.
The petition has been 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. The Centre had told the top court that it was proactively providing all support to Bihar in containing and managing the epidemic. Now, both the petitions will be heard together by the apex court.