Dhading, April 5
While the country has come to a halt due to the nationwide lockdown imposed by the government to prevent the spread of coronavirus pandemic, measles outbreak has hit Chepanggaun hard at Ward No 6 of Benighatrorang Rural Municipality, Dhading, for the past one-and-a-half months.
Two children lost their lives to measles and more than 180 have been taken ill so far.
Dhading was declared a fully-immunized district more than two years ago. However, a measles outbreak has struck Chepanggaun 27 months later.
Anupa Chepang (29 months), daughter of Santa Bahadur Chepang and Soltimaya, died of measles on March 24 while Asha Kumari Chepang’s son Sashant died on March 28 , said the Rural Municipality.
Chepang basti located in the Mahabharat range reels under acute shortage of food throughout the year. Battered by poverty and scarcity, the area also lacks health and education facilities.
The primary goal of the locals is to make ends meet.
Chepang people said they did not know they had to immunise their children. With many Children infected with measles in the village, the health department of the rural municipality has started collecting data, testing and treating children, said rural municipality health coordinator Shankarbabu Duwadi. For the first time, four children were detected with measles at Charaudi Health Centre on February 16.
During field inspection, a total of 46 children were found infected with measles on February 19.
Two of the children were admitted to Kanti Child Hospital in Kathmandu for tests. They returned home three days later after recovery. A team of doctors, including from Dhading District Health Office and Dr Rupesh Timilsina from WHO, had made a field inspection and advised the rural municipality to take initiative to tackle the problem on February 20.
The rural municipality had set up two vaccination centres and claimed that all the children were vaccinated on March 6 and March 9. Ward chair Devkrishna Ale said he had visited every household and urged parents to have their children vaccinated. As of today, 180 children below the age of 14 have been infected with measles.
For the Chepang people, it takes more than two hours to get to the health centre of their ward.
Sanumaya Chepang said people had sent her back when she was going to the centre to have her child vaccinated last Wednesday owing to the lockdown.
The measles outbreak had started at Chepang basti of Bumrang, Rotesh, Soldanda, Bungpung and Gotheri of Benighatrorang Rural Municipality around two months ago.
The rural municipality’s health joint coordinator ANM Sita Kharel said that her health workers had been deployed for treatment after the disease was detected in many children. A team of health workers was repeatedly sent out to treat children from the rural municipality.
Soltimaya Chepang said that no Chepang woman had their child vaccinated. Mother of six children, Chepang said that she and her children had never got immunised.
A source at the rural municipality said it had sought help from the District Health Office and province government after it failed to control the outbreak.
Rural Municipality Chief Administrative Officer Laxman Bhattarai said that his office had planned to vaccinate all people below 40 in the village.