Speaking for the first time on the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome deaths in Muzaffarpur, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday called it "unfortunate and a matter of shame for the nation".
"The deaths in Bihar due to AES are unfortunate and a matter of shame for us. We have to take this seriously," he said in his reply to the debate on the motion of thanks to the President's address in Rajya Sabha.
Modi said that he is in constant touch with the Bihar government. "I am sure we will collectively come out of this crisis soon," he added.
"The need of the hour is to strengthen Ayushman Bharat. We want our poor to get the best quality and affordable medical treatment," he said.
The death toll due to AES mounted to 132 in Muzaffarpur district on Wednesday. Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH), which is handling the largest number of patients in the district, reported 111 deaths while there were 21 deaths in Kejriwal Hospital.
On June 24, the Supreme Court had expressed "serious concerns" over the rising number of deaths due to the disease.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had announced an ex-gratia compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of the children who had died due to AES. Nitish also gave directions to the health department, district administration and doctors to take necessary measures for the containment of the disease.AES is a viral disease that causes flu-like symptoms such as high fever, vomiting and in extreme cases, brain dysfunction, seizure, and inflammation of heart and kidney.