Govt forms panel to tackle outbreak

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JAJARKOT/KATHMANDU, APR 17 – A Cabinet meeting on Thursday formed a four-member central coordination committee led by Chief Secretary Leela Mani Paudyal to ensure adequate response at the disease outbreak sites in Jajarkot.

The committee members are Health Secretary Shanta Bahadur Shrestha, Home Secretary Surya Silwal and Defence Secretary Ishwori Prasad Poudel.

Health Minister Khagaraj Adhikari confirmed the formation of the committee. “The committee is mandated to take all necessary steps to contain the outbreak in Jajarkot,” he said.

Also, the Parliamentary Committee on Women, Children and Elderly Citizens has instructed the Health Ministry to conduct an effective response. The instruction comes in the wake of a lacklustre response from the government in many Village Development Committees of Jajarkot where an influenza has so far taken 17 lives and left over 2,000 people ill.

Agni Sapkota, a member of the House committee, said they had summoned the health minister to brief on the measures that the government had taken to contain the epidemic. “He gave us an impression that the response in Jajarkot is inadequate,” said Sapkota. Also present in the meeting were Health Secretary Shrestha and Director General of the Department of Health Services Dr Sinendra Upreti.

Government deploys three Nams docs in Jajarkot

The government has deployed three doctors—Dr Kamal Raj Thapa, Dr Kalyan Sapkota and Dr Durga Dhungana—from the National Academy of Health Sciences (Nams) Bir Hospital to treat sick villagers in Jajarkot.

Blood samples arrive

Seven blood samples sent to Kathmandu for test from Jajarkot arrived on Thursday. Dr Geeta Shakya, director of the National Public Health Laboratory, said the test results will be out by Friday.

Among the 12 throat swabs taken from patients earlier, three tested positive for influenza H1N1, also known as swine flu. In other cases, the disease remains to be ascertained.

Contained in some VDCs, spreads elsewhere

Meanwhile, the impact of the disease is subsiding in some severely affected VDCs. In Paink and Sakla VDCs, the disease has come under control while the outbreak goes unchecked in Nayabada and Talegaun. Also, many people from Rami Danda, Rokayagaun, Laha, Kortang and Majkot are complaining of symptoms such as fever and common cold.

Bir Bahadur Hamal, a school teacher in Sakla, said around 300 people are ill in the village, 10 of them serious.

Some villagers claimed that the disease was first seen in a group of people who had recently returned from India. They have complained of fever, nausea, headache, and body-ache.

Whopping investments: ‘Zero’ results

Following the 2009 cholera outbreak in Jajarkot which killed 340 people, there has been an investment of over Rs230 million for sanitation and hygiene in the district.

The district was declared an open defecation-free zone last year after Rs30 million was spent to improve facilities.

“The latest outbreak shows that sanitation and hygiene remain as poor as prior to the year 2009 when Cholera had taken the lives of many people in the district,” said Mahesh Mahato, chief of the Drinking Water and Sanitation Sub-division Office in Jajarkot district.

People scared in neighbouring Mugu

Already battling with the spread of communicable diseases, people in the neighbouring Mugu district are in a state of panic fearing possible spread of the disease there.

Locals have demanded health desks at entry points with other districts.

In Dailekh, a health desk has been established to screen people coming from Jajarkot.