Thursday, 18 April, 2024

Health Safety Concerns In Disaster-hit Areas

This year’s relatively longer rainy season with higher rainfalls and the latest extreme off-seasonal downpours in Nepal have proven to be quite devastating. The rain-induced disasters such as flash floods, landslides and inundation have caused considerable losses to people’s lives, development projects, infrastructures like roads and bridges and private houses and other properties in many parts of the country. Last week’s intense rains have created a sense of worry among the farmers as the sudden torrential rains damaged the harvest-ready paddy crops across the country.
Preliminary estimates reveal that the paddy farmers have alone suffered a loss equivalent to billions of rupees. In view of the plight of the disaster-hit farmers as well as those who have been rendered homeless, the government has announced some relief scheme for them. Such a support may become a big respite for them in this difficult situation.

The people living in the areas affected by the post-monsoon rains are still at high risk of being infected with different contagious diseases. Public health specialists have appealed to them to take additional precautions to remain safe from any possible outbreak of the infectious illnesses there. Floods and other rain-induced calamities are likely to increase the transmission of a variety of water-borne communicable diseases such as typhoid, cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, fever, jaundice, Hepatisis A and leptospirosis, among others. The prospect of spreading the vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue also cannot be ruled in the areas. According to health experts, the concerned authorities as well as the locals are required to remain highly alert against the possible emergence of both water-borne and bacterial infections. Many people have been displaced due to the disasters. They have been deprived of safe drinking water and other sanitation facilities. Thus, they are vulnerable to a spate of communicable diseases in the current post-flood and landslide situation.

As most victims of disasters are now living in congested temporary shelters, they may easily catch COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Elderlies, children and those with underlying health conditions are at a higher risk of getting infected with such diseases. So, the authorities should ensure that boiled or purified drinking water is made available to them to prevent the spread of such diseases. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) has taken the issue seriously and started making necessary arrangements for safe drinking water and sanitation services in the disaster-hit areas. The ministry has also begun holding discussions with the responsible authorities to look for ways to deal with possible problems.

As per the MoHP, Health Directorates of Province 1 and Sudurpaschim Province have already provided details about the public health condition in the affected areas. These are the worst-hit provinces in the post-monsoon rains. It has made necessary preparations for adopting health precautions. The MoHP, in collaboration with the local state and non-state actors, must accord top priority to managing safe drinking water, toilets and other facilities for the victims of calamity in the displacement areas. As COVID-19 is still spreading across the country, though at less alarming rate, those affected by the disasters must keep on observing all the health safety and sanitation norms so as to save themselves from this pandemic.