Nepal | July 11, 2020

Risk of cholera

EDITORIAL

The Himalayan Times
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We are in the middle of the monsoon, and this is when infectious diseases occur most, and hospitals have many patients

A few days ago it was three, then it rose to seven, and now it has gone up to 20. The patients who have tested positive for cholera have been going up in the capital city, as confirmed by the government’s Epidemiology and Disease Control Division under the Department of Health Services. These cases were confirmed after the stool tests of 20 patients suffering from diarrhea admitted to the Teku-based Shukraraj Tropical and infectious Diseases Hospital showed cholera-causing bacteria. However, the good part of the bad news is that nobody has died so far. Cholera is an infectious disease which can assume epidemic proportions. In those days when medical sciences had not developed so much, and even now in regions of the world where medical and sanitation facilities are poor, when cholera germs infect somebody, there is a high risk of the disease spreading and killing many more people. Cholera is transmitted through contaminated water; therefore, to protect ourselves against the infection and many other waterborne diseases, we should drink uncontaminated water, maintain sanitation and be careful about personal hygiene.

But lack of awareness and care about health among many people leads to high risks of cholera and other infectious diseases striking. One source of risk is to drink water without making sure that it is free of the disease-carrying germs. One of the many examples of the risk is highlighted by the throngs of young girls and even boys around the roadside sellers of paani-puri. A number of people catch diseases such as jaundice, typhoid and cholera by eating contaminated food and drinking contaminated fluids. Another source of contamination comes when the consumers are let down by the companies in which they trust and use their products in full faith. The examples of bottled purified water (generally called here mineral water). Tests conducted by the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control have from time to time found that the bottled or jarred water supplied by many of them contain substances and germs that should not have been there. And in the very recent case, the packet milk supplied by 22 dairies has been found to be contaminated.

All this points to the need for everybody to be very careful about the food and fluids they take in. About water, home-boiled water gives a guarantee of quality. Or as doctors say, chlorine-treated water is also advisable. A revealing fact about the majority of the 20 infected patients is that they live in slum areas as Kalimati and Kuleshwor. We are in the middle of the monsoon period, and this is when infectious diseases occur most, and hospitals are burdened with such patients. Every year, 1.4 to 4.3 million cases of cholera are estimated to occur worldwide, and the deaths range between 28,000 to 142,000. While people are struggling with poverty, they find it more difficult to take such necessary care about their health. But public awareness campaigns should be launched by all concerned, particularly during the summer and rainy seasons when such diseases find fertile breeding grounds. Such cases in far-flung districts go largely unreported, and the risks of occurrence and lack of treatment there are high. More attention should be paid to these areas.

End the row

The row between Nepal Telecom and Ncell over interconnection has affected customers of both sides making it hard to make calls from NTC to Ncell and vice versa. Two mobile phone firms share a total of 24.73 million subscribers combined. The dispute over the interconnection surfaced after the April 25 earthquake when NTC had reduced the domestic interconnection capacity for Ncell due to damage of the receiving towers.

Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA), the regulatory body, had held a joint meeting of the
two firms to resolve the dispute on July 14 and both the sides had agreed to solve it through mutual
understanding. As a result of the row, Ncell is reported to have squeezed international interconnection making it difficult for NTC to terminate international in-coming calls in Ncell network and NTC also
reduced Ncell’s capacity for domestic interconnection calls.


A version of this article appears in print on August 13, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.


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