Integrated policy must to check repeat of Jajarkot tragedy

KATHMANDU: Ministry of Health and Population said all the blame for the diarrhoeal outbreak could not be pinned on it.

Sudha Sharma, MoHP secretary told The Himalayan Times that despite all-out efforts, the ministry had not been able to bring the epidemic under control due to shortcomings in hygiene and sanitation, lifestyle, drinking water supply and food supply.

She said the medicines that were dispatched on mules were under the allocation for the new fiscal year and claimed that the medicines for diarrhoea patients were carried on the same flight took the minister to the affected areas. On the other hand, Giriraj Mani Pokhrel, former minister for health and population, has accused the government of having failed to take a timely initiative to deal with the crisis. He said the ministry lacked the mechanism to coordinate with the other ministries concerned.

“The present outbreak is not due to the previous government. It surfaced during the time of the new government,” said Pokhrel.

Vishwo Raj Khanal, acting director of Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, said, “WHO has provided technical assistance but is not assisting the EDCD through direct finance.” He claimed that talks with WHO were on for financial assistance.

Dr Nirmal Kandel, National Programme Officer of Communicable Diseases Surveillance and Response at WHO, said they ony provided technical assistance to combat diseases. He added that WHO had no mechanism to provide direct financial assistance.

Pranaya Upadhaya, senior epidemiologist at EDCD, said vacancies in health posts had not been filled for almost three months, which is the primary reason for the outbreak. He said the government sent the doctors to the affected areas only after the outbreak. “The government should formulate a long-term strategy to combat the outbreak,” said Dr Laxmi Raman Ban, Director, National Health Education and Information Centre. “We are seeking an integrated policy from national and international donor agencies for resolving the present crisis,” said Ban.