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Government system failed in cholera affected regions, activists

Sun, 02 Sep 2007 17:01:00
"It is a shameful incident in this stage of time and development" says the fact finding team from Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) who visited the cholera affected areas of the region.
A Correspondent
A Cholera affected patient at Kashipur Pic: Ratnakar Dash
Bhubaneswar, September 2 (odisha.in) The government system has failed completely in Orissa’s three districts of Koraput, Kalahandi and Rayagada where waterborne diarrhea and cholera has killed more than a hundred people, a team of social activists said.

"It is a shameful incident in this stage of time and development" says the fact finding team from Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) who visited the cholera affected areas of the region.

The team comprising of Dr. Hrudananda Patnaik, former Executive Director, Orissa Health Society, Tapasi Praharaj, State President, Democratic Women's' Association of India, Gouranga Mohapatra, Convenor, JSA and Sudarsan Das, Convenor, 'Agami Odisha' has visited the cholera affected regions of Kashipur of on 28th of August to assess the real cause of the incident.

The information pertinent to the crisis was collected through meeting with villagers, observation of the drinking water and sanitation facilities, visiting the Community Health Centre, and meeting with the BDO of the region.

Collective failure of the government mechanism rather than the feature of the health system are the reason for the unprecedented situation, found the team.

This kind of incidents had taken place many a times in the past. However our government system had not taken adequate preventive measures and it was not at all prepared to face the situation, the team said.

 The situation could have been availed if the various departments of the government were prepared themselves in advance to tackle this outbreak, comments the team.

The public health programmes have not been accorded due priority and in fact they have been relegated to background. There is nothing like environmental sanitation. Although a few people avail drinking water from tube wells, the people are largely depending on the stream water.

The kind of preparedness needed to treat the cholera patients has not been in place. In spite of this, the tireless effort some doctors, like Dr. Surendra Kumar Rath has helped to save many lives", expressed the team.

Food security scenario is a matter of grave concern. People are not getting adequate food. They are having a very substantial level of living comprising of ragi gruel and some leafy vegetables collected from forest as their mainstay for food. National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme has not ensured the food security for the people.

The hundred day food basket has been a failure. One of instances is the situation in the Maikanch village, where 245 people have been identified to be included in the scheme out of which 147 persons have been issued the job card. Till date, no work has been done under NREGS and the block development officer has also conceded the fact.

Kashipur block has a population of 1 lakh 20 thousand with 8 primary health centres, out of which only 3 doctors are present. The pharmacist is running the centres and in between only one doctor has been deputed to Kashipur CHC. Though the government claims to run several health camps in the villages it has been observed that it is in a mess.

It has also come to the notice that even the ambulances are not working properly when it is needed most. The situation as of now in this area is grave and the government should take appropriate steps to tackle the situation viz. to ensure timely and appropriate treatment of the effected cholera cases, to increase public awareness and to ensure food security drinking water facility, and environmental sanitation.

In order to achieve the above the Health Department should work in close association with Department of Panchayati Raj, Women and Child Welfare, Rural Development and Tribal Development.

For that matter, the state government should agree to the centre's proposal for providing helping hand. The non-government organisations should be engaged in mass awareness. It should not, any way be considered a failure of health system only and rather a failure of the entire system.

The number of deaths due to cholera is increasing day by day. Everyday Hundreds of people are being affected. It is ridiculous if somebody speaks the situation is under control. The team demands appropriate and adequate efforts to be taken in this regard.


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