Rukum diarrhoea toll hits 36

RUKUM :Three persons died of diarrhoea in Rukum today, leading the total epidemic deaths to 36 in the district.

According to District Police Office Rukum, Bhadra Oli (70) of Bhalassa VDC, Bhumi BK (25) of Arma VDC and Arjun Khatri (37) of Gotamkot VDC were those killed today.

The outbreak remains uncontrolled despite the pledges of PM Madhav Kumar Nepal, ministers and senior Maoist leader Dr Baburam Bhattarai to do the needful. More persons and VDCs are under the grip of the deadly diarrhoea. Villagers said the government's response to the menace had been ineffective.

Prem Bahadur Malla of Aathbiskot said medicines and health workers were still in short supply in the villages.

A two-month-old died of the disease in Jajarkot's Majakot VDC today. The case has been suspected to be cholera of late.

In its statement, Diarrhoea Control and Epidemic Management Coordination Committee today informed that 126 persons have so far died in the district.

Locals, however, said the toll has reached 140. Treatment camps comprising health workers, army and police personnel have been established in 22 places.

In Rolpa, the toll reached four, with the death of 11-year-old Prem Khatri in Jugar VDC last night. Ten others have fallen sick in the village.

DHO Rolpa has claimed that the epidemic has come under control. A team led by Dr Shishir Dahal returned to Liwang today after treating 58 patients in Uwa VDC.

Meanwhile, a team of health workers has left for Dadeldhura's Bhadrapur VDC. Nine patients, who could not be treated at camps, are receiving medical care at District Hospital. A number of patients are undergoing treatment at a the local health post.

Hard times ahead for survivors

Shakti Kumar Pun

RUKUM: The diarrhoea epidemic has not only caused a colossal damage of lives, it has wreaked havoc in the lives of many those managed to survive.

"I lost all my property in course of treating seven members of my family,” said Prem Bahadur Malla, a resident of Aathbiskot VDC-2 in Rukum. “I saved them from the deadly diarrhoea but now there is another big challenge of survival in lack of food, money and shelter.”

As the free health camp site run by government was too far for Malla to take them for treatment, he decided to treat them in a local clinic. At first, he had treated them in credit. But the debt amounted so much that he, in the end, had to sell his piece of land, house and a buffalo -- all that he possessed -- to pay back the same.

“Tell yourself how the homeless paupers manage their lives at the time when they lose everything," he asked this scribe heartrendingly.

The recovered family members -- three sons, three daughters and wife -- have now got a new lease of life, but uncertain future.

“I think I should go to India in search of job so that I can earn for two square meals a day for my family," he said chokingly while tears were rolling down his cheeks.

The dream of once happy Mallas' to better their lives is almost waned due to the diarrhoea.

"My children are small. Even if I work for a whole day, that will not be enough to slake their hunger. Sometimes I think to hang myself,” said Malla in anguish. “Who will take care of us at this difficult time?”

The Malla family is taking shelter at a neghbour's.