Nepal | July 05, 2020

Haemophilia patients lack medicines to plug bleeding

The situation has worsened after movement of international flights was disrupted

Sabitri Dhakal
Share Now:

Kathmandu, April 22

Yubaraj Kattel has been bedridden for the past few days. His joints and left knee are swollen. And he feels pain in hip joint as well.

“If this situation persists, I may not survive,” said 30-year-old Kattel, a resident of Kaushaltar.

Kattel suffers from haemophilia, a disorder in which blood does not clot properly, causing prolonged bleeding.

There is no cure for haemophilia. However, there are medicines to prevent and treat prolonged bleeding. But the lockdown, which began on March 24, and suspension of commercial flights have affected the supply of medicines for patients like Kattel.

“We need to take medicines lifelong. But we have not been able to get them now. This is a life-and-death situation for us,” said Bed Raj Dhungana, a haemophilia patient and former president of the Nepal Haemophilia Society.

People suffering from haemophilia bleed for a period longer than usual even if they suffer minor injuries. The bleeding can also occur from gums and nose, while internal bleeding causes joints and muscles to swell.

People suffering from haemophilia bleed for a longer period because they do not have enough protein factors in their blood to help clotting. This may lead to other deformities in some patients.

Keshav Karki, 46, for example, has been using crutches to walk, thanks to haemophilia. He travelled to Okhaldhunga from Kathmandu before the lockdown. He can’t travel to Kathmandu amidst the lockdown and he has run out of medicine. He has been taking pain killers to relieve the pain. “If I don’t get proper medicines soon, my health condition will further deteriorate,” said Karki.

There are around 3,000 haemophilia patients in the country, according to Navin Chandra Dhungel, president of the Nepal Haemophilia Society, which was formed to provide comprehensive care to people with haemophilia and to unite them into a community to provide self-help and mutual support.

Haemophilia patients are given anti-haemophilic factor in the form of an injection. The World Haemophilia Federation provides around 1,500 vials of the factor per year to Nepal Haemophilia Society for free. Each vial contains 500 to 1,000 units, or doses, of the factor and each patient needs 1,000 to 1,500 doses of the factor depending on severity of bleeding.

“These factors were in short supply even before the lockdown. But the situation has worsened after movement of international flights was disrupted. Worse, we cannot find these medicines at drug stores here,” said Dhungel, adding, “Arrangements are being made to bring the medicine from India, but it will take 15 days to a month.”

The anti-haemophilic factor provides a lifeline to haemophilia patients. But if they fail to fetch them on time, health condition can worsen rapidly.

“A week ago, my son had joint pain and we somehow managed to get the medicine from the society,” said Pratiksha Thapa, mother of a seven-year-old haemophilia patient. But the stock of medicine has evaporated. And she is looking for more, but to no avail.

“He is feeling pain in his joints again and he can’t move. We need to carry him even to go to the toilet. He is also suffering from nosebleeds now,” Thapa said.

Most of the haemophilia patients who lack protein factors VIII and IX suffer severe bleeding, according to Niraj Kumar Singh, a consultant haematologist at Bir Hospital. “Bleeding can occur any time. A mild injury too can put their lives at risk or lead to deformity,” said Singh, acknowledging shortage of medicines to treat haemophilia in Nepal.

At times, patients are given plasma therapy for treatment.

“As there is shortage of blood these days, the treatment has become challenging,” said Singh. “If there is gastro intestinal bleeding or bleeding in urine in high volume, then patients can lose their life. In severe cases, these patients can also suffer from brain haemorrhage.”


A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 23, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Locusts devour crops on 1,100 hectares

KATHMANDU, JULY 3 Desert locusts have damaged crops cultivated on 1,100 hectares of land across the country. According to the Locusts Information Centre, eight districts have reported damage caused by locusts till date. Of them, Dang is the worst hit and Palpa the least. The locusts devoure Read More...

World Bank elevates Nepal to ‘lower middle income economy’

Country saw its GNI per capita rise to $1,090 in 2019, but economists says it doesn’t mean much in terms of development KATHMANDU, JULY 3 Nepal is now officially a lower-middle income country, an upgrade from its previous status as low income nation, according to the World Bank’s latest coun Read More...

Oli, Dahal in bid to save NCP unity

If the two co-chairs fail to act as per the spirit of the party unity document, maintaining party unity will be difficult  - NCP leader Mani Thapa KATHMANDU, JULY 3 Co-chairs of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) — Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli — held talks for thr Read More...

Kailali's Bhajani Municipality, Joshipur Rural Municipality inundated

KAILALI, JULY 3 Bhajani and Joshipur of Kailali have been inundated after floodwaters gushed into the settlements. According to eyewitnesses, many houses in Wards 2, 3, 6 and 8 of Bhajani Municipality have been inundated. Local Ganga Chaudhary said floodwaters from local Kandra and Kadha ri Read More...

Ministry develops guidelines for rehab centres

KATHMANDU, JULY 3 The Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens has developed guidelines for operation of rehabilitation centres to ensure that vulnerable persons at the centres do not contract COVID-19. MoWCSC said the new guidelines would be effective until Nepal was declared coronavir Read More...

Nepali Congress Ram Chandra Paudel

Country pushed into crisis: Paudel

DAMAULI, JULY 3 Senior Nepali Congress leader Ramchandra Paudel said sudden prorogation of the Parliament was unfortunate for the nation. “At a time when the nation is fighting a deadly disease, the decision to prorogue the Parliament has pushed the country further into the crisis,” said t Read More...

Holding centre in Khotang

KHOTANG, JULY 3 A 10-bed holding centre has been established in Diktel, the district headquarters of Khotang, for returnees. According to Chief District Officer and District COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre coordinator Shaligram Sharma Poudel, Nepali Army personnel and Red Cross staff jointly Read More...

Visit Nepal 2020 mascot, yeti

Former Visit Nepal secretariat seeks more budget from Tourism Ministry

KATHMANDU, JULY 3 Even after the government has scrapped the secretariat of the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign, the secretariat has submitted more unpaid bills to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA). Addressing a press meet today to unveil the ministry’s work progress dur Read More...