Students studying at Pitaraj Basic School (PBS) of Liwang, the district headquarters of Rolpa, have been fainting and collapsing inside classrooms, with troubling frequency for the past two months. Almost all students of this school, mostly girls, have been affected. The children complain that they feel dizzy and see apparitions when they close their eyes. They shiver and fall unconscious soon after. The school authority and parents did everything they could—however flawed—to address the situation. They took the students to a nearest health post but it did not work. They they turned to shamans. Balkalyan Model Secondary School and Tara Secondary School have also witnessed such problems and they also sought shamans’ help but it did not help. First the municipal authorities of the district did not show any interest in solving the problem. When health professionals from Liwang came, they were horrified by the situation. Desperate parents then resorted to superstition: They sacrificed a black goat. The situation remains unchanged in schools of this remote district.
This has not only affected children’s health and deeply worried their parents, but it has also ruined the studies of children whose final examinations are about to begin. The school has remained closed for days already. Parents have started thinking of switching school. Some unaffected students have even stopped attending schools out of fear as they witnessed their friends falling in front of their eyes. The case of Rolpa not only speaks about how backward the region is and how terribly entrenched superstitious beliefs are, but the state mechanism has been oblivious to this serious case. The epidemic of fainting is contagious and teenage girls fall victims, almost everywhere. Doctors call it a psychological problem and prescribe psycho-social counseling.
Local governments are now beginning to pay attention to this problem. District authorities in Rolpa should immediately arrange for health professionals to these affected schools. If the problem persists, Department of Health in Kathmandu must intervene. It should send teams of doctors and psychiatrists to the scene. The nature of such disease is that the longer it takes to cure the faster it spreads across the community. School children in Rolpa have been suffering for more than two months. Authorities in Kathmandu should heed their cries and make all the arrangements to eliminate this disease.