No need to quit: Nitish on health minister’s resignation
Bihar Health Minister's resignation over AES deaths
PATNA: As the Opposition in the State gunned for Bihar’s Health Minister Mangal Pandey’s scalp, following the death of 154 children due to suspected AES, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said there was no need for him to resign.
“The resignation of Health Minister won’t serve any purpose. Rather it will further aggravate the problem as he has already been taking adequate measures to stem the rot in the Health Department,” Nitish defended his ministerial colleague, who is a senior BJP MLC. Nitish responded on the issue during the third day of the ongoing-Monsoon session in the House.
The Opposition has been baying for Pandey’s blood in the Bihar Assembly as well as the Council, ever since 154 children died of suspected acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in the last one month in the State.
Nitish’s defence of his Health Minister came close on the heels of Bihar Government submitting an affidavit in the Supreme Court where it admitted that Health Department was ‘ailing’ in the absence of adequate doctors and nurses. The Government accepted that there was huge shortfall of hands in the hospitals. “Against the sanctioned strength of 12,206 doctors, there were only 5,205 doctors posted in Government hospitals in Bihar (around 57.35 per cent posts of doctors were vacant). Similarly, against the sanctioned strength of 19,155 nurses, there were only 5634 nurses, a shortage of 70.59 per cent. Around 62 per cent posts of lab technicians and 48 per cent posts of pharmacists were also vacant in Government hospitals,” said the affidavit submitted before the apex court.
The Supreme Court, while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) on June 24, had asked the Bihar Government to submit an affidavit explaining the deaths of more than hundred children due to suspected AES.