No testing and essential medicines for Covid-19 suspects in Upper DolpaVillagers suffering from fever, cold and headache have not been tested as the district does not have any testing facilities.
A large number of local residents in Dolpobuddha, Chharkatangsong and She-Phoksundo rural municipalities of Dolpa district have been taken ill with fever, common cold and headache for the last two weeks. But since there is no road network reaching these rural villages, health workers haven’t been able to provide the patients with the necessary treatment and medicines.
According to people’s representatives, there isn’t enough essential medicine in the region to treat the patients that are showing symptoms similar to that of Covid-19.
“The villagers haven’t recovered even in two weeks’ time. Health workers are doing their best to contain the spread of the disease but the number of people falling sick is growing,” said Kyalpo Thapa Bhote, chairman of Dolpo Buddha Rural Municipality Ward No. 1. “Almost every house in Ward No. 1 has at least one patient suffering from fever, cough, cold and body ache.”
Although the villagers are suffering from coronavirus-like symptoms, health workers have not confirmed Covid-19 infection since the villagers have not been tested for Covid-19 for a lack of testing facilities.
On May 6, two health workers and two technicians from Dho in Upper Dolpa were airlifted to a Surkhet-based hospital after they showed symptoms of Covid-19. They tested positive for the virus.
“If we could transport medicine and medical supplies to the region, we would be able to save many lives,” said ward chairman Bhote.
According to him, Dolpa natives living in Kathmandu have collected 27 types of essential medicines and other medical supplies, including oxygen cylinders and concentrators, to be sent to their villages in Dolpa.
“But since there is no road connectivity, the supplies have to be flown in from Kathmandu. We are looking for people who can help us do that,” said Bhote.
The office of Dolpobuddha Rural Municipality has been requesting the Karnali provincial government to help in the supply of medicine but to no avail.
“The villagers rely on herbal medication if they fall sick. Many ministers have said they will look into the matter but no one has done anything so far,” said Temba Gurung, chairman of Dolpobuddha Rural Municipality.
It takes three to six days on foot to reach the District Hospital in Dolpa from Upper Dolpa. In most cases, Covid-19 patients are referred to health facilities outside the district since the district hospital is not equipped to handle critical Covid-19 cases. The 50-bed hospital has one ventilator, which is currently not in use for a lack of skilled staff, and two beds with an oxygen facility.
There are no doctors available in any of the local units in Upper Dolpa.
Amar Singh Shahi, acting health manager at the Health Service Office in Dolpa, said the local units should manage all expenditures for the care of Covid-19 patients.
“But there’s no such mechanism for the management of Covid-19 patients in Upper Dolpa,” he said.