At least 10 children between 3-10 years of age have lost their lives and several others have been infected by the diarrhoea outbreak, which has hit the remote Lazu circle of Arunachal Pradesh’s Tirap district.
Around 8 children from Pongkong village and two from Longliang have succumbed to the disease in the past two weeks drawing the health department and district administration’s attention.
Officials said the situation is being constantly monitored by local legislator W Sawin, Tirap deputy commissioner Taro Mize and DMO Dr N Lowang, while a medical team has been kept on standby at the Lazu community hall to ensure the best possible medical care and assistance to the children.
An ambulance has also been arranged to evacuate those serious to the district hospital in Khonsa.
Tirap district medical officer-in-charge Dr Obang Taggu said the exact reason for the outbreak is yet to be ascertained.
“The PHE department has already collected the water samples from the affected areas and sent them for a lab test. The stool samples of the infected children have also been collected and sent to Naharlagun for further analysis,” Dr Taggu said.
Medical officials on the ground said, “though the first case of death was reported on July 17, the villagers refused to receive medical treatment due to their superstitious beliefs.”
“The villagers initially refused medical treatment and did not even allow our team to enter their community saying that the outbreak was caused by evil spirits. The administration had to engage the panchayat and student leaders and the Assam Rifles personnel to convince them, following which we were able to provide medical care,” an official said.
At present, workers of the Sanjeevani Foundation, an NGO, health workers from the Lazu primary health centre and district hospital and a team of 6 Assam Rifles are monitoring the situation under the supervision of the district administration, the official added.
Lazu PHC medical officer-in-charge Dr A K Sengupta said the situation has improved in the last few days as there have been no reports of death.
According to the World Health Organization, diarrhoeal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old and is responsible for killing around 525000 children every year.
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