May 29, 2018 02:00 AM NPT
Diarrhea outbreak in Dang
More than one year after local elections were held and local governments formed to ensure basic services such as clean drinking water supply and health facilities to the people, our local bodies should have been able to work efficiently to provide them these basics and ensure that their health is protected. This sadly has not been the case in many of the local units. In Dang, for example, over 1000 people are battling against diarrhea epidemic and waiting for recovery. More than 1,200 people of Patetakura of Shantinagar Rural Municipality in western Dang have been affected. Desperate people are flocking to local health posts for treatment. Most patients suffering from vomiting and diarrhea are women. Some of the patients are in critical conditions, according to the report, and two of them have been referred to Nepalgunj for further treatment. As the number of patients is increasing, health workers have been compelled to administer treatment in the open ground.
Contaminated drinking water has been identified as the cause of outbreak. And yet locals are still forced to use such water for they have no other option. Water was directly filled in the drinking water tanks without any purification, which then was directly sent to water taps. This reflects on serious lack of preparation on the part of local authorities to protect public health. The ministry of health and health department can improve the situation with simple measures of providing water treatment tablets to the villagers. However, the surest way to solve such problems is by cleaning the source of water. Elected local leaders can and must do a lot to prevent the situation from getting worse. They can at least lead a campaign in their respective constituencies to organize people and make them aware about the consequences of keeping water sources in filth. Woefully, our local representatives have not been found to work up to the expectations of locals. Some of them, as the recent reports have shown, have not returned to their constituencies after winning the elections. This reflects on utter lack of sensitivity on the part of the leaders who were chosen to take care of the people’s health and basic services. That people in the villages—where water is available in much larger quantity than in the cities and towns—still have to suffer for the lack of clean and pure water shows where we stand.
The government must also ensure that doctors, health workers, medicines and other logistics are available at local health facilities at such times so that such epidemic can be controlled in time. If necessary, the center must immediately send a team of experienced doctors with sufficient logistical arrangements. The onus is on the government in the center as well as the local levels to ensure that enough budget is allocated for the purpose of making available clean and drinkable water to the people. Earthquake has destroyed many water sources in various parts of the country and in lack of prompt repair and maintenance of those sources, villagers are struggling to get their water needs meet. Incident of Dang should serve as a clarion call for the concerned authorities to remain alert and ensure that similar incidents do not occur elsewhere this monsoon—when a number of people suffer from water-borne diseases and some even lose their lives.