The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Viral fever has gripped all Bhutanese refugee camps

Friday, July 13,2007
KATHMANDU: Viral fever has gripped all seven Bhutanese refugee camps in Jhapa and Morang districts. Hundreds of refugees have fallen ill and treatment of the sick has become difficult as most of them are children and aged people.The number of patients visiting health centres in the camp has gone up suddenly and there are neither enough health workers to attend to the sick nor sufficient medicines, said a health worker at Beldangi-2, Bidur Dagal, adding that at least 100 patients were visiting the health centres every day. The health centres have no other medicine save Cetamol, he said, warning that the situation can get out of hand if arrangements for treatment are not made soon.Due to the spread of viral fever, students from the Beldangi camp are also facing problems. Assistant headmaster of the Marigold School Basudev Adhikari said most of the students fell ill and did not turn up for an examination. The ongoing third-quarterly examination has been affected by the widespread absenteeism, he said.Sixty critically ill persons visited the Damak-based AMDA hospital. Dr Chandra Shah of the hospital said some of the patients were critical. Excessively high fever, vomiting, lack of appetite, severe headache are symptoms of the seasonal disease, he added.A refugee at the Beldangi camp Yadav Neupane accused the authorities of not being serious about the problem. He added that additional health workers were not dispatched to the camps even in such a grave situation.An INGO, AMDA, which has been extending assistance, has urged refugees to take precautions. Chief of the AMDA, Birtamod, Dr Nirmal Rimal, said the number of patients and effect of the disease this year have surpassed all past records. He said that a team of health experts from Kathmandu will visit the camps on Sunday. The team will give its report after a field visit, he added.Jhapa's Khudunabari, Goldhap, Timai and Morang's Shanishchare camps have also been affected, said camp secretary at Khudunabari Manoj Rai. Viral fever grips densely-populated camps every summer.

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