UNICEF's immediate distribution of chlorine tablets and ORS packets prevents water borne epidemics in Anand, Gujarat
Rampura, an interior village of Anand district, with a population of 600 persons was marooned in the recent floods. For almost four days, the village remained inaccessible, with no supply of electricity and drinking water.
Ramilaben Thakore, a 45-year old social worker in Rampura, says “people were getting nervous as they were cut off from the mainstream. Also children and adults had started falling ill with fever, cough and diarrhoea. We were also concerned about epidemics. However, as the water started receding after four days, Urmilaben, the District Public Health Nurse, accompanied by Rashmin Pandya, Multipurpose Health Worker (MPHW) rushed to our village with the much needed supplies of UNICEF supplied chlorine tablets to purify our drinking water.”
UNICEF Gujarat office had been in constant touch with the state authorities and acted immediately to air-lift supply of 5 million chlorine tablets for distribution to the affected population to prevent any epidemics caused by contaminated drinking water.
"Had we not received the UNICEF supply of chlorine tablets on time, many children in Rampura would have succumbed to water-borne diseases.”
Rashmin Pandya, MPHW says, “not only did we visit each and every house in the village to distribute chlorine tablets, we also counselled the village people on the benefit and use of these tablets. We also identified Ramilaben as a depot holder of chlorine for maintaining regular supply of chlorine tablets in the village.”
Maniben Thakor, an agricultural worker, says “Ramilaben had come yesterday to my house to give chlorine tablets. Under her supervision, I crushed one tablet and put it in my water pot. I feel that the water has become tasty and clean because of the tablet and thank God no one has fallen ill in my family.”
Ramilaben, who owns a provision store in the village, keeps the stock of UNICEF-supplied chlorine tablets and ORS packets in her shop. She takes the initiative to distribute the tablets to all those who come to her shop for buying provisions. In addition, she shoulders the responsibility of going around house-to-house to distribute the tablets and also advise the people on its benefits and use. Says Ramilaben, “During the evening time, I visit houses and tell the women and men of the household to crush one chlorine goli and put the same in their pot of water. I also explain that the germs in the water will be killed by the tablet and people will be saved from any water-borne diseases. With the help of young girls and boys, I have also written slogans on the walls about the use of chlorine tablet. Had we not received the UNICEF supply of chlorine tablets on time, many children in Rampura would have succumbed to water-borne diseases.”
Dr Rajesh Patel, Medical Officer from Sabarkantha district has been deployed in Rampura village of Anand district to provide curative services to the flood-affected people. His day begins with putting up a make-shift clinic in a village at 9:00 a.m. and attending to streams of children, young and old of the village, who are suffering from flood-related health problems.
One can easily spot a box full of ORS packets with UNICEF logo on his table. Dr Rajesh Patel says, that timely support from UNICEF in making the ORS packets available to the district has helped the Medical Officers deal effectively with cases of diarrhoea and prevent dehydration. “People suffering from diarrhoea have been demanding ORS packets with UNICEF logo because of its high quality”, says Dr Rajesh Patel.
Timely support from UNICEF in making the ORS packets available to the district has helped the Medical Officers deal effectively with cases of diarrhoea and prevent dehydration.
Ambaben Thakore, mother of a diarrhoea affected child, Poonam, expressed relief at the easy availability of ORS packets. She says, “As soon as Poonam reported loose motions, I immediately rushed to the camp doctor, who gave me this packet of ORS and explained to me the method of preparing the life saving solution. This has helped Poonam to regain energy and she is back on her feet once again.” Chimanbhai Thakore, who was also suffering from diarrhoea, remarked, “Immediately after I was affected by diarrhoea, Rashmin Pandya, Health Worker, gave me two packets of ORS. I have been continuously drinking this solution and I am feeling much better now.”
CDHO, Anand had received 30,000 ORS packets from UNICEF on 5th July and these were immediately sent to the Primary Health Centres, from where these were distributed to the affected families. Timely assistance by UNICEF not only helped in strengthening the hands of the government, but was also instrumental in saving the lives of several women and children affected by floods.