Health Ministry urges international agencies to extend help in flood- and landslide-hit areas

- ARJUN POUDEL, Kathmandu

Jul 14, 2019-

The Health Emergency Operation Centre, set up by the Ministry of Health and Population, has asked international partner agencies to be prepared to help and mobilise their mechanisms in the flood- and landslide-hit districts.

During a meeting at the Health Ministry on Sunday, the centre which is responsible for addressing epidemics in the aftermath of major disasters—earthquakes, floods and landslides—informed representatives of the agencies concerned about the risk of disease outbreaks in the flood- and landslide-hit districts.

“We have also requested them to mobilise their local channels in the areas of need,” Chudamani Bhandari, chief of the centre, told the Post. “All our international partner agencies are ready to provide all kinds of help.”

Representatives of the World Health Organization Nepal Office, UNICEF, UNFPA and other agencies were present at the emergency meeting. 

The centre had held meetings twice in the past on the possible disasters and epidemics in the aftermath of floods.

According to Bhandari, the centre had also held an emergency meeting with the Ministry of Home Affairs on Saturday about the ways to deal with possible emergency situations.

“We have urged Home Ministry officials for help in the transportation of medicines,” said Bhandari. “Supplying medicines in the affected areas have become a challenge for us.”

Health Ministry and Home Ministry officials have agreed to coordinate to deal with possible emergency situations. 

For that, the District Disaster Management Committee would coordinate with the Home Ministry which in turn would coordinate with the Health Ministry for sending help.

The Health Ministry has also directed all the central-level hospitals and medical colleges to prepare emergency teams of doctors to be mobilised in the disaster-hit areas, according to Bhandari. 

He said three teams of doctors from the Health Ministry would be deployed on Monday to Pathlaiya of Bara district, Lahan of Siraha district and Bardibas of Mahottari district of Province 2, one of the provinces worst hit by the floods.

Those teams would coordinate with the provincial and local governments to ensure health services to the needy people.

Health experts have warned of possible outbreaks of waterborne diseases—diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis E in the flood-hit areas of the Tarai region, as most of the water resources have been contaminated by floodwaters. 

Foodstuff has been either washed up or soaked by the floodwaters.

“Cases of malaria, dengue, kalajar could go up and people in the affected areas are vulnerable to snake bites as well,” said Dr Sameer Kumar Adhikari, an official at the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division. 

Adhikari informed that the federal government has also allocated funds to provincial and local governments to buy medicines for emergency situations.

The division has also urged all provincial governments to not allow health workers to take leave during the monsoon, which is considered an epidemic season. 

Over 50 people have died with hundreds being displaced across the country due to floods and landslides caused by torrential rainfall over the last few days.


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Published: 15-07-2019 08:00

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