Saturday, September 01, 2007

Cholera, diarrhoea epidemic claims 171 lives in Orissa

The Hindu

More people hospitalised, disease spreads to many new areas

KASHIPUR (Orissa): As the death toll due to the outbreak of diarrhoea and cholera epidemic in the State rose to 171 on Friday and the disease spread to new areas, the authorities were found struggling to cope with the situation.

That the government was underplaying the epidemic became clear during a visit to some government hospitals and affected villages in the tribal-dominated Kashipur block of Rayagada district.

While many people suffering from diarrhoea were admitted to the Tikiri primary health centre in Kashipur on Friday, the death toll rose to 66 in the block.

The PHC never had electricity and there was no doctor for nearly one year till the cholera deaths were reported from a majority of the villages under the 20 gram panchayats in Kashipur. Electricity was provided and a doctor was posted at the health centre only after people of Kucheipadar organised a road block agitation on August 22.

Meanwhile, fresh cases were reported from Podagada area under the Dasmantpur block of Koraput district. Four students of Podagada girls’school were admitted to the local primary health centre. While the official death toll increased to 73 in the block on Friday, the death toll in the district rose to 78.

Kashipur and Dasmantpur blocks have been badly hit by the epidemic, while 27 deaths have been reported from the Thuamul Rampur block of neighbouring Kalahandi district so far.

The unofficial reports, however, indicated that the death toll in the three districts had increased to 297, with 180 deaths in Kashipur, 90 in Dasmantpur and 27 in Thuamul Rampur.

The Opposition Congress on Thursday claimed that they had already prepared a list of 350 persons who had fallen victim to diarrhoea and cholera.

The casualty could be more than 500, senior leaders of the party claimed.

Lok Shakti Abhiyan, an organisation working in the backward KBK region, has also claimed that at least 300 people had died in the districts of Rayagada, Koraput and Kalahandi so far.

President of the Abhiyan Prafulla Samantara blamed the government for neglecting the health sector in the rural areas.

Meanwhile, stray cases of diarrhoea were reported in distant Mayurbhanj district.

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