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The government's response is not up to the mark: HRF general secretary
Anti-larval spraying operations have not been done in a single village we visited, he says
VISAKHAPATNAM: The Human Rights Forum (HRF) has expressed concern over the serious health crisis in the Agency region of Visakhapatnam district. A four-member HRF team toured five villages of G Madugula mandal on Wednesday to look into the health situation and the government's response to it in Solabam and Gaduthuru panchayats and some remote habitations.
“It was clear to us that adivasis are being afflicted principally with malaria (the deadly falciparum variety) and gastro-enteritis but have not had proper access to health and medical care. Media reports suggest that already over 30 adivasis have succumbed to malaria since the rains arrived. In every village we visited, there were not less than four persons bed-ridden with high fever, chills, intense sweating, nausea and lack of appetite. The situation in the remote adivasi habitations is worse,” HRF State general secretary V.S. Krishna said.
The government's response to this crisis had been pathetic, he stated. Even though it was a known fact that people of the Agency suffer from malaria and gastro-enteritis before and during the monsoon months, hardly any preventable steps were taken. The medical and health department was consistently trying to play down the extent of the crisis, and only resorting to ad hoc measures which only resulted in adivasis succumbing to these preventable and treatable diseases, with fatal regularity year after year, he observed.
“Even the anti-larval spraying operations have not been done in a single village (not even Solabam and Gaduthuru which are both panchayat headquarters). The first round of spraying is supposed to have been completed in late March-early April and the second by June-July, followed by a third round in November-December. It is only recently that the first round has started and that too in only some selected villages. The community health workers (CHWs), the basic health unit in every village, are not properly trained, and in most cases, they are not up to the job.
They have not had their monthly honorarium of Rs.400 paid since the past 14 months. The CHWs have not even been supplied with requisite material like chloroquine tablets and para kits (used to take blood samples for malaria check). Some of the medicines they had were expiry dated,” Mr. Krishna alleged.
The HRF leader demanded that the existing medical and health staff in the Agency be doubled and personnel recruited on a permanent and not temporary basis. The salary of CHWs should be increased to Rs.1000 and they should be given proper training and paid on a regular basis. Mosquito nets should be supplied to all households within a week and all habitations provided with potable water.
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