Fear of diseases looms in the wake of floods

  • Experts call for urgent steps to supply water, sanitation and medicines
Most of the flood survivors are left with no option than to spend nights under the open sky without basic facilities

Aug 18, 2017-As flood survivors struggle to come to terms with the disaster, they fear disease outbreaks, for they lack proper shelter, food, clean water, sanitation and basic medicines. 

People are living in poor conditions sans basic facilities, said Nawal Kishor Jha, chief of Rautahat District Health Office (DHO), adding that immediate measures must be taken to provide the affected people with water and sanitation to prevent a public health crisis. 

“Chances of disease outbreaks are high. We are on high alert. But authorities must take urgent steps,” said Jha.

Around 400,000 people have been directly hit by floods since Friday that inundated 

80 percent of Rautahat, according to initial estimations by the District Administration Office. Around 300,000 people have been displaced. Eighteen people were killed in the worst water-induced disaster in many years in the district.

Most of the flood victims are forced to spend nights under the open sky. Some are living in flimsy make-shift tents while others are taking refuge at relatives’ houses. 

Most of the health posts in the district are facing medicine shortage, according to locals. Jalandhar Prasad Yadav, senior in-charge of Rajpur Health Post of Rajpur Rural Municipality, said that the health post should have a total of 72 types of medicines, but it lacked even basic medicines. 

The DHO said it has asked local bodies to buy essential medicines as soon as possible.  

Since villages have been cut off, authorities are facing difficulties sending relief materials and other essentials. 

“We are trying our best. We will start relief distribution on a war footing at the earliest,” said CDO Uddhav Bahadur Thapa. 

In Banke, another district hit by flooding, more than 600 affected people are suffering from viral fever at Kamaiyadanda in Rapti Sonari Rural Municipality. 

The District Public Health Office (DPHO) said patients in critical condition have been taken to Nepalgunj for treatment. Khim Bahadaur Khadka, an official a the DPHO, said most of the people are suffering from diarrhoea, fever, common cold, gastritis, conjunctivitis and skin infections. “We have sent health workers with medicines to the flood-affected areas,” said Khadka, adding that viral fever is under control. 

The recent floods displaced more than 9,000 people and destroyed 3,000 houses in Banke. Over 3,500 houses were inundated in the district, according to the local administration. The displaced are taking shelter at community forests, school buildings and police stations. Health workers said people of Tikulipur, Balapur, Phattepur, Baijapur, Kachanapur and Kusum village were falling ill due to contaminated water they are forced to drink. 

In Biratnagar, scores of flood-affected people are also suffering from various diseases. “The situation of flood-affected people is miserable. They are suffering from fever, common cold and diarrhoea,” said Nepali Congress leader Dr Shekhar Koirala who has been treating flood victims for the past few days. 

Meanwhile, snakebite cases are on the rise in flood-hit areas in Morang. The Koshi Zonal Hospital has been receiving 20 cases of snakebite on daily basis. Dr Roshan Pokharel said the hospital has already treated at least 120 snakebite patients in the last six days. 

(With inputs from Banke and Morang correspondents)

Published: 18-08-2017 07:36

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