Health ministry plans to run measles vaccination drive in flood-hit districtsOutbreak risks of contagious and vector-borne diseases are normally high after floods, according to health officials.
The Ministry of Health and Population is planning to launch a measles vaccination drive for the people displaced by recent floods in several Tarai districts.
Monsoon floods have killed as many as 90 people and displaced hundreds in the past two weeks.
Health officials say there is a high chance of measles outbreak among the flood-displaced people.
“Many flood-displaced people have been taking shelter in temporary camps, schools and community buildings, where the possibility of measles outbreak is very high,” Chudamani Bhandari, chief of Health Emergency Operation Centre at the Ministry of Health and Population, told the Post.
Measles is a contagious viral disease transmitted through fluids from nose, mouth or throat of infected persons.
The ministry has directed the authorities concerned to assess the disease outbreak risk in the flood-hit areas in the districts of Rautahat, Sarlahi, Mahottari and Saptari.
According to Bhandari, vaccine coverage is very low in these districts, making them highly susceptible to outbreaks of contagious diseases like measles.
At Rajdevi Municipality in Rautahat, floods have displaced nearly 250 families.
They are taking refuge in local schools, colleges and public buildings.
“They have nowhere to go. Almost 90 percent of the houses in the municipality were inundated. Many homes are still filled with mud,” Uma Kanta Jha, senior health coordinator at the municipal office, told the Post over the phone.
Sabita Sah, a female community health volunteer at Laxmipur village in the municipality, said that many flood survivors are suffering from viral fever and diarrhoeal diseases.
“I have referred the sick people to local health facilities. Health workers have also been informed about the situation in the displaced camps,” Sah said.
The municipal office has opened mess centres at various places to feed the flood survivors, but it has been unable provide them sanitation facilities.
Rekha Kumari Sah, another female community health volunteer, said unhygienic conditions in displaced camps have mostly affected children and the elderly.
Although the rains have stopped for the time being, the situation of the displaced people is far from improved.
Dr Pramod Yadav, chief of the Regional Health Directorate of Province 2, said all health facilities in the flood-hit districts have been directed to form response teams to deal with the possible health crisis and to assess the risk of disease outbreaks and in the flood-hit areas.
“Outbreak risks of diseases like diarrhoea, dysentery, jaundice (hepatitis A, E), viral fever and vector-borne illnesses such as dengue, malaria, kalajar and Japanese encephalitis are usually very high after floods,” Yadav told the Post.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Population has supplied essential medicines and reagents in the flood-hit districts after several health facilities incurred damage and loss of medicines in the floods.
The ministry has also deployed three teams to the flood-affected districts to deal with the health emergency. These teams will work closely with the provincial and local level governments.
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