Interview with Jajarkot-based physician Dipak Pun in Himal Khabarpatrika, 18 April
Himal Khabarpatrika: How is the situation in Paink?
Dipak Pun: Compared to two weeks ago, the situation at Paink has improved by 80 per cent. We have a team of eight health workers who has been toiling round-the-clock. However, the epidemic is still spreading to other villages. Currently, Talegaun VDC has the most number of patients infected with H1N1.
What’s the main reason for the outbreak?
We found that a lot of patients first went to see faith healers and shamans rather than visiting health clinics. Lack of awareness among the public, problems in hygiene, weak health, inaccessibility to health services, contaminated water reduced their immunity when they were exposed to the virus.
What preventive measures can we adopt?
It’s important to avoid crowds and maintain a distance while speaking to others. Try not to shake hands or share hugs. Also, wearing a mask and increasing the intake of fluids is important. Get a check up when you have a cough or cold.
Did the state neglect Jajarkot?
That’s not exactly true. We have been receiving medicines, but if the infection had been identified sooner so many lives wouldn’t have been lost. The sub-health post at Paink didn’t have a lab, and we made one after reaching there. We also called health workers from neighbouring districts. None of the patients we treated lost their lives.
What should the government do next?
A sense of panic has gripped villagers after the disease was confirmed to be swine flu. The state now needs to be more careful and alert. We need to spread the message of prevention and awareness, not terror. Swine flu can be treated. Also, it is time for the government to send a new batch of health workers to relieve those who have been working tirelessly for the past few weeks. As preventive measures, health workers and medicines should also be sent to places where there have been no infections so far.
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