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Monday, October 18, 2021

In Palwal village, 4 kids die of fever in 2 weeks, road to health centre waterlogged

Health department officials Sunday set up a temporary outpatient department (OPD) at the village numbardar’s house, where officials are screening people with fever symptoms for dengue, malaria, and other vector-borne diseases as well as Covid.

Written by Pavneet Singh Chadha |
Updated: October 5, 2021 8:54:50 am
Drains being cleaned. (Photo: Abhinav Saha)

In the last two weeks, four children, all aged below five, have died “of fever” in Chhainsa village in Palwal’s Hathin, prompting health department officials to conduct screening among 8,000 people to establish the cause and launch an investigation.

Health department officials Sunday set up a temporary outpatient department (OPD) at the village numbardar’s house, where officials are screening people with fever symptoms for dengue, malaria, and other vector-borne diseases as well as Covid. Four cots have been kept in the temporary OPD, to function as “hospital beds”, said officials.

The primary health centre (PHC), built several years ago, is yet to be functional as the access road remains waterlogged.

Dr Mahesh, medical officer, PHC Chhainsa, said, “There is 2 feet-water on the road that goes to the PHC and it remains waterlogged. So, it’s not possible for people or staff to visit it. We have set up a temporary OPD here.”

Officials said that so far, at least four fever-related deaths have been reported. As per a preliminary investigation, on September 21, a nine-month-old girl died of suspected pneumonia after a one-day fever. On October 1, three children — a five-year-old girl, a two-month-old boy and a ten-day-old girl — were reported dead. Officials said the five-year-old girl died of ‘dengue shock syndrome’, the boy’s death is under investigation, and the ten-day-old girl died from pneumonia and related symptoms.

Azad (23), a cab driver, said his 5-year-old daughter Mubasira had high fever on September 30 and died the next day. “I took her to the government hospital in Nalhar for tests. Her platelet count was low. The next day she died at the hospital. Her report said she had dengue,” he said.

Another resident, Nasser, said his nine-month-old daughter, Anam, died soon after contracting high fever: “On September 21, she had high fever. I took her to the local doctor in Hathin, who gave an injection. A few hours later, she died. Officials are saying the death occurred due to pneumonia. I suspect dengue… her platelet count was dipping.”

Mushtaq, a panchayat member, said that while a spike in fever cases was normal during monsoons, the deaths in a short span was alarming. “In every house, there are cases of fever. The drains are never cleaned. Officials only visited the village on Sunday after deaths were reported. The only way to access the road to the PHC is through a boat,” he said, adding that several complaints had not been heeded to.

As an earth mover picked up heaps of garbage from drains in the village on Monday, curious onlookers gathered around. “This is the first time in three years that drains are being cleaned in the village with a JCB,” said Devender, a villager.

Officials said over 50 staffers — Asha workers, ANMs, doctors — were conducting door-to-door screening in the village and taking samples. “So far, we have sent four samples suspected for dengue, whose reports are awaited. 44 rapid diagnostic tests for malaria have reported negative. A total of 69 fever cases have been reported at the OPD,” said Dr Mahesh.

In Chilli village, over 13 km from Chhainsa, seven children had died in three weeks last month, causing panic. Officials in Chilli village had said a contamination of water supply was suspected to be the cause.

Vijay Kumar, senior medical officer, Hathin, said, “So far, five deaths have been reported in Chhainsa in the last two weeks, out of which one is due to suspected dengue, while others are from pneumonia and neonatal deaths from complications during birth. We have set up a 4-bed facility and OPD in the village. Extensive fogging and anti-larvae measures are being carried out.”

SDM, Hathin, Laxmi Narayan, said, “I visited the village this week. Strict instructions have been issued for cleaning drains. Extensive fogging is being carried out. Several places in the village are waterlogged due to rainfall. A committee will be formed to find a solution to the access road to PHC. Currently, it’s inaccessible.”

Palwal Chief Medical Officer Dr Brahmdeep Sandhu added, “The PHC has not been handed over to the health department. It is yet to be inaugurated. The panchayat was supposed to get work related to the road done. We have made adequate arrangements at the OPD to deal with the situation. I have written to the panchayat and public health department to get the drains cleaned on priority…”

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