Kathmandu, October 31:

The Epidemiology and Disease Control Department (EDCD) under the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) has sent two truckloads of medicine to 18 districts of the hilly region to help check the possible outbreak of viral influenza during the winter.

“Unlike in the hilly districts, medicines can be easily sent to the terai region,” Dr Mahendra Bahadur Bista, the director at the Epidemiology and Disease Control Department (EDCD), said, adding: “That is why the EDCD has begun supplying drugs to the hilly region as drugs can be easily sent to the terai.”

The drugs sent are for treating outbreaks of influenza and diarrhoea.

With the objective of checking the possible outbreaks of viral influenza and diarrhoea, “the EDCD has sent antibiotics, paracetamol tablets and syrup to the mid-western and far-western regional medical stores.”

Dr Bista said the drugs will be distributed to the concerned medical stores of the above-mentioned districts in a few days.

In the first phase, the drugs will be supplied to 11 districts of the mid-western region, namely Pyuthan, Rolpa, Rukum, Salyan, Dolpa, Dailekh, Jagarkot, Humla, Mugu, Jumla and Kalikot.

The Epidemiology and Disease Control Department has also directed the regional medical store to keep buffer stock of the medicines so as to prevent possible outbreaks.

Drugs have already been sent to seven districts of the far-western region, namely Darchula, Baitadi, Dadeldhura, Doti, Bajhang, Bajura and Achham.

According to the yearly reports prepared by the EDCD, 18 deaths out of 847 cases of viral influenza were reported in 2000, 26 deaths out of 692 cases in 2001, 19 deaths out of 1,875 cases were reported in 2002 and 37 deaths out of 18,889 cases were reported in 2003.

In 2003, the highest number of cases (7740) of viral influenza were reported in the central region and the highest numbers of deaths (22) were reported in the mid-western region.

According to Dr Bista, 1000 out of 60,000 viral influenza patients died in the district of Jumla in 1999.