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Habibpur alarm over diarrhoea deaths

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Malda
  • Published 4.08.03
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Malda, Aug. 4: A sudden outbreak of diarrhoea that has claimed at least five persons, has triggered a wave of panic in Habibpur block.

The health centre at the block has treated 38 patients till Monday morning. Fifteen people were admitted to the health centre.

Habibpur block medical officer Dipankar Roy said the health centre at Bulbulchandi has been getting a steady flow of patients since Thursday. “We have received sufficient stocks of medicine from the district health authorities. The patients who came in for timely treatment have all recovered. The deaths have all occurred in the village,” he said.

Roy blamed the lack of public hygiene for the spread of diarrhoea. “The people are bathing, washing their clothes and utensils in the same pond from which they are taking water for cooking purposes. That is why the disease has spread so fast. But we are working round-the-clock to contain the disease. Our workers have been deployed in all the villages to prevent the spread of the disease.”

Habibpur block development officer Mrinmoy Sinha said diarrhoea has assumed epidemic proportions in three villages. “We have instructed the pradhans to admit those suffering from the disease at the Bulbulchandi health centre. The villagers have told not to use pond water.”

According to Sinha, the villages hardest hit are Petrolgarh, Jankibat, Rangitpur and Gandhinagar under the adivasi-dominated Srirampur panchayat. Three deaths have occurred in Petrolgarh while Gandhinagar accounts for two.

The pradhan of Srirampur panchayat Sukumar Soren said the villagers were not being able to travel to the Bulbulchandi health centre because of the poor condition of the roads. “The families cannot afford to hire a car to take their patients to Bulbulchandi. Only those who are relatively better off financially can take their family members in a hired car,” he said.

The isolation ward at the Bulbulchandi health centre is spilling over with patients, who are being forced to share beds. Block medical officer Roy said: “The rate at which patients are coming, we will soon have to open another ward.”

The people whose family members are suffering from diarrhoea said they were facing immense hardships in getting treatment. They were ferrying the patients all the way to Bulbulchandi, 12 km away, in rickshaw-vans.

Sohagi Soren of Petrolgarh village is one of them. The hapless mother has already lost a daughter to diarrhoea and her son is now affected. “There is not a single household in our village where at least one member has not been affected by diarrhoea. We can’t depend on hospital medicines and have to get them from elsewhere,” said Soren.

“The medicines supplied by the hospital are not effective. We have to get them from outside. Vaccines are also not available at the hospital. We have to buy the injections at a much higher price from outside.”