In 'polio-free' Nepal, 4 of single family are bed-ridden due to disease

PHIDIM: Nepal was declared a polio-free nation by the World Health Organisation on March 27, 2014, but four children of a family in Panchthar district have been infected with the disease.

After his two daughters and two sons gradually developed disability as an effect of polio, Harkabir Tamang (61) from Kulbung in Ingbung VDC-7 of the district is gradually losing his mental faculties.

He also has an added responsibility to look after his children in the old age.

Among nine children of the man, two sons and two daughters were diagnosed with the disease, after they were taken to a health camp organised in the district headquarters Phidim.

Harkabir's elder son Khadga Bahadur (37) was born healthy, but at the age of 12, his legs were paralysed. He has been bed-ridden thereafter.

Likewise, his sister Sirmaya (21) also turned disabled at the age of 3. She cannot sense when she needs to urinate.

Two other siblings - Mahendra (22) and Tara (17) - can hardly walk. But their arms and limbs have been shrinking due to the virus.

After the family members have been disabled and bed-ridden due to the virus, Harkabir, his wife Dhanmaya (63) and other two sons have the burden to look after them.

When they are discriminated by the society for the disease, they console themselves blaming the 'fate' for the illness.

The polio-infected ones are worried about their future as there may not be other family members to take care.

They have not received any social allowance and benefit from the government. Sirmaya even does not have her citizenship certificate.

The victims’ family have been trying to establish a contact with some organisations working for persons with disabilities. The organisations, however, failed to understand their suffering, they complain.

Nabin Dhungel, chairperson of Apanga Sewa Sangh, Panchthar, said if the concerned VDC shows an initiative to provide compensation to the victims, the Sangh is ready to help Sirmaya get her citizenship card and disabled identity card in coordination with the District Administration Office and the District Women and Children's Office.

Similarly, Chief of District Women and Children's Office,  Goma Wagle, said she was aware of the situation through various media and would put in her efforts to provide facilities provided by the government to the victims.