Health workers reach flu-hit villages in Bajura a week after outbreakTwo people died and dozens were infected with influenza-like ailments, but local health facilities are without doctors.
Rudra Pandey, a local of Dhulachaur of Himali Rural Municipality in Bajura, went to a health camp organised by the district public health office on Thursday.
The 71-year-old was the only one in her family of six who could walk to the health camp. The rest of the family members had been struck down with the flu and high fever that had spread across the village over the past week.
"My son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren are all bed-ridden," she told the Post over the phone from Dhulachaur. "I am in a hurry. I have to give food to my ailing children and fodder to cattle."
A health worker, upon examining Pandey, gave some cetamol tablets for her and the other family members.
Himali Rural Municipality is two hours away from the airport in Kolti and three days’ walk from Martadi, the district headquarters of Bajura. It has been severely affected by influenza-like ailments for the past week. But the health camp was organised only on Thursday, five days after two people died in the adjoining Swami Kartik Rural Municipality.
"We examined 75 people today in the health camp. The conditions of two children are severe," Dr Raju Raj Joshi, who was deployed from the district hospital, told the Post over the phone. "Other patients, who visited the camp, were also suffering from the flu and high fever."
People, whose conditions were less severe and who could walk, visited the camp, said Joshi.
Another auxiliary health worker reached Kolti following a long journey, including a 14-hour bus trip to Nepalgunj from the district headquarters.
According to Joshi, it takes three days to reach the affected village from the district headquarters. The road from the district headquarters has been blocked by heavy snowfall and landslides.
Joshi and another health worker have collected specimens from two patients. But they are having difficulties preserving them due to lack of refrigerator and electricity in the area.
"We are in a dilemma, whether we should return with specimens from here or go to Ward-4, where a lot of people are reportedly suffering from illness," he added.
Another team led by Kul Bahadur Rawal, an auxiliary health worker, organised a health camp in Swami Kartik Rural Municipality. Rawal said the two people—who died five days ago—were suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
"Flu and fever is not a big issue in this village," Rawal told the Post over the phone. "People die of such minor ailments. Only those people, who can afford to go to Nepalgunj and Kathmandu, seek treatment here."
The primary health facility in Kolti has been without a doctor for the last seven months, according to Dr Chet Raj Joshi, who is serving at the Social Development Ministry of Sudurpaschim Province.
"We can send doctors only to the health facilities that come under the province's jurisdiction," Joshi told the Post. "Local units can hire doctors and other health workers for the health facilities that come under their jurisdiction."
He concedes that people in the disease-hit areas have been deprived of basic health care services.
Meanwhile, Dr Guna Raj Awasthi, chief of the Regional Health Directorate in Sudurpaschim Province said his office had directed the District Public Health Office to deploy health workers and send medicines to the affected areas and that they were following up on the development.
"We have requested the National Public Health Laboratory to send the health workers and necessary equipment immediately," said Awasthi.
According to the latest human development index report, Bajura is among the most deprived districts in terms of health, education and sanitation. Life expectancy in the region is only 58 years compared to a national average of 70 plus.