Malnutrition-The Cause of Chamki Outbreak
| Dr. Kavita Vikas - Dhanbad, Jharkhand - 21 Jun 2019

By Dr.Kavita Vikas

New Delhi, June 21, 2019: In Muzaffarpur, Bihar more than 158 children have died this past month due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome, popularly known as Chamki fever. A large number of children coming under its grip have nowhere to go – they are lying on the floor of the hospital. The condition has worsened due to intense heat too. This is not the first time that the disease has struck the state. It happens every few years - it happened in the year 2012 and in 2014. Huge loss of lives are recorded and many go unregistered.

The course of blame and criticism is shifting sides among hospitals, media, and the Governments. The recent visit of Bihar State Health Minister in the concerned hospital was like the silver lining in the cloud but his irresponsible attitude and irrational statement disappointed the kin of the diseased.

Although the State Chief Minister has assured for quick recovery and financial help is being rendered yet the families of the sufferers are not consoled. The question still remains,  why were no preventive measures taken beforehand. Adding to that the question of whether the medical department has done enough after the outbreak of the disease.

Union Health Minister Mr. Harsh Vardhan has said to give all possible help to the State Government but again the question arises whether the help goes to actual needy. Earlier also promises were made for sorting out the situation and fighting the problem but no assistance has reached either the hospitals or the grieved families.

Most of the children died came under the claws of malnutrition. There is an alarming finding in this regard which points some fingers to the seasonal fruit Leechy.

Apparently, those who suffer from malnutrition if happen to eat leechy leads to release of a toxic inside the fruit that stops making glucose in the body and creates a condition as Chamki fever or in scientific terms: Acute Encephalitis Syndrome.

If the leechy has fallen down from the tree itself because of being overripe,  then the toxin is even more acute. A healthy child hardly comes under the attack.

Long story short - the outbreak of AES in Bihar in regular intervals reveals the loopholes in the system. This is the point to ponder that the children, the future of our nation are weak and poor. Moreover, they come under the claws of malnutrition. Interestingly, the promises of the ministers which are made every year have not reached the ground reality.

The dispute and live chats on TV shows have nothing to do with the pain and suffering of those families who have lost their children.

Governments at both levels have to take the challenge deliberately for the permanent cure of this phenomenon. The virus of this fever is still under scanner but the moot questions lie in the virus nobody questions – called poverty. The economically low standard of living and lack of basic amenities in medical houses are the root causes behind their death. Provision of ambulances and its availability from door to door are the essential factors at the time of need.

Government needs  to create awareness toward sanitation and other public programme for integrated effort. Mal-nutrition and unhygienic condition of living are the basic factors causing Chamki. At the end of the day, the Government  along with the public have to resolve the issue together for it’s eradication.


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