The National Human Rights Commission on Thursday issued notices to the Centre and states over the “deplorable public health infrastructure in the country”.

The commission said it issued notices based on media reports of deaths across the country due to “deficiencies and inadequacies in the healthcare system”. The commission’s move comes amid an outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in Bihar.

“Apart from the death of 143 children in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome [official toll for the state is 136], the Commission has recounted the loss of lives in Gorakhpur due to Japanese Encephalitis, death of newly born infants and other patients due to failure of oxygen supply, carrying of dead bodies by family members on their shoulders because of non-availability of ambulances, incidents of delivery of babies in front of the hospitals due to negligence and non-availability of doctors etc,” the panel said.

The commission has also directed its teams comprising doctors and officers to visit hospitals and primary health centres in “vulnerable states” to conduct a fact-finding inquiry. The NHRC has directed the teams to start with Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab.

The notices were issued to chief secretaries of all states and Union territories seeking a report on “incidents relating to deaths due to lack of health and medical care facilities” over the last three years. The states have been given six weeks’ time to submit the reports. A notice was also issued to the secretary of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare seeking a report in four weeks.

Encephalitis toll rises to 136: Bihar health department

The toll in the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome outbreak in Bihar has mounted to 136, PTI reported quoting the state health department on Thursday.

Statistics released by the health department showed that the total number of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome cases registered across the state since June 1 was 626 and the total number of deaths this month was 136.

Muzaffarpur reported the highest number of casualties, recording 117 deaths so far. Deaths have been reported from Bhagalpur, East Champaran, Vaishali, Sitamarhi and Samastipur districts too.

The health department said that among the various complications that are covered under the umbrella term Acute Encephalitis Syndrome, hypoglycaemia or very low blood sugar level was the most prevalent as it affected 520 children and accounted for 110 deaths. There have been a few instances of Japanese Encephalitis and herpes, which are caused by viral infections, the department said.