Patients dying without treatment

RUKUM: Although all family members of 58-year-old Ahankar Malla, a resident of Aathbiskot VDC, are suffering from diarrhoea, he could not muster up courage to take them to a health camp located at a four-hour walking distance.

This is how two weeks have elapsed but the sick family has not got any medicine, Malla told The Himalayan Times.

“I don’t need compensation after the death of any of my children,” he said in despair, adding, “Just convey to the government that I want to save my children’s lives.”

Malla is not the only one suffering this plight. Condition of those suffering from the disease in most of the VDCs in Rukum and Jajarkot districts is not that different.

“Many are suffering from the disease; however, there is no way for treatment in the absence of medicine and health workers,” Roshan Ranamagar, a resident of Kholagaun, said.

The villagers, who have lost their near and dear ones, are blaming the government for slow response to save their lives.

Seventeen persons had died of the disease immediately after Health Minister Umakant Chaudhari inspected the affected areas in Jajarkot and announced the district “diarrhoea-free” before returning to the capital following a helicopter visit on July 7.

In Rukum too, two patients had died of the disease on the very day PM Madhav Kumar Nepal visited the district on July 20, while the epidemic claimed three more lives the day Maoist senior leader Dr Baburam Bhattarai visited the next day.

“High-ranking government officials are flocking here one after the other with hollow assurances.

But they are doing precious little to improve the plight of the patients,” complained Sangam Pun Magar, a resident of Ghetma, whose three family members are in dire need of treatment.

Even the PM’s announcement of providing relief up to Rs 15,000 each to the families of the victims is yet to be implemented.

Although a single health camp is being run in the health post in each of the affected VDCs, the geographical remoteness is posing a serious problem.

Going by the number of affected population, at least 300 health workers should be deployed in 153 camps with sufficient medicines in Rukum.

But only 21 health camps are operational and 42 health workers are deployed in the affected areas.

The deadly diarrhoea, which broke out in May, has claimed over 200 lives in Jajarkot, Rukum, Rolpa, Dailekh and Dadeldhura districts. Over 10,000 people are suffering from the disease.