New Delhi: The Bihar government on Tuesday filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on a PIL relating to children’s death from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar. The affidavit submitted by the Nitish Kumar-led government in apex court disclosed the poor condition of healthcare facilities in state, wherein 157 children lost their lives due to AES.

The state told the Supreme Court that there are only 5,205 doctors in government-run health centres against the sanctioned strength of 12,206. In the affidavit, the Bihar government also said that only 5,634 nurses were there in government-run hospitals and health centres against the sanctioned strength of 19,155.

Giving details of the status of available clinical human resource, the state government said there was 57 per cent and 71 per cent vacancy of doctors and nurses respectively. In case of lab technicians and pharmacists, the vacancy stands at 72 per cent and 58 per cent of the sanctioned strength, the affidavit said.

“It is respectfully submitted that the overall human resources available in the health system in the state is not as per standard norms,” the affidavit said, adding that health department has taken steps to recruit medical officers, para-medical and other technical support staff.

Earlier on June 24, the apex court had issued notices to the Centre and well as the Bihar government seeking answers on the measures taken to combat the epidemic-like crisis due to AES in Bihar. A two-judge bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and B.R. Gavai gave seven days to the Centre as well as Bihar government for submitting their affidavit on the issue.

The PIL filed by advocates Manohar Pratap and Sanpreet Singh Ajmani alleged that there was a complete failure and utter negligence by state and central authorities to prevent the outbreak of the disease that affects Bihar every year.

On Monday, the Nitish Kumar had addressed the issue in the state legislative assembly calling it “extremely serious” and saying that he had called several meetings to discuss the matter at length.

Moreover, Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey also presented data supporting his claim that the number of deaths due to AES has reduced by 21 percent over the past few years.

Meanwhile, the death toll due to AES in Bihar has mounted to 157, while at least 133 deaths have been reported in Muzaffarpur.

With PTI inputs