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Bihar: emergency medical supplies rushed to prevent disease outbreak

A child being immunized against measles at a Health Camp in Bihar
© UNICEF/India/Gurinder Gulati
A child being immunized against measles at a Health Camp in Bihar

By Gurinder Gulati


Bihar, August 23:  “Water, water every where” is the scenario all around in most districts of Bihar, which is experiencing the most devastating floods in recent memory. 

Village after village is submerged in flood waters, posing a serious threat to the survival of millions of women and children in the state.

“A lot of water has accumulated in and around our village.  The fear of disease is very much on my mind.  Therefore, I have brought my two year old son to protect him against measles and Vitamin A deficiency”, said Pawan Kumari, who had come to a special health camp organized by the Health Department in Man Bishanpur village of Muzaffarpur district. 
 
Counseling about hygiene behaviour and appropriate caring practices, particularly during an emergency like floods, is also being provided to mothers at the camps. “When the child suffers from diarrhea, mix the ORS powder in one litre of clean water and give it to the child at regular intervals. This will save him from dehydration”, advised the lady health worker, when handing over a pouch of ORS to one of the mothers.   

To support the massive relief effort underway in Bihar, UNICEF has deployed 20 health specialists to provide technical support to the Bihar government in the 12 badly affected districts.  They are assisting the 250 mobile medical teams of the Government in planning and organization of health camps.  In addition, to meet the urgent needs of the affected population, UNICEF has supplied the following medicines and other emergency relief materials:

  • 300,000 ORS packets
  • 1.5 million Iron Folic Acid tablets
  • 600,00 halogen tablets
  • 30,000 Kgs of bleaching powder
  • 20,000 tarpaulin sheets and family kits
  • 48 Tents, 40 medical kits and 110 midwifery kits

A Health Worker advising the mother to use ORS to protect the child from dehydration
© UNICEF/India/Gurinder Gulati
A Health Worker advising the mother to use ORS to protect the child from dehydration

More supplies are in the pipeline.

A surveillance mechanism has also been put in place by UNICEF to collect information about disease profiles from all the 12 badly affected districts and to identify areas of suspected outbreak. 

Every evening a district-wise report is produced and submitted to the Secretary of Health for remedial action.
 

UNICEF is also coordinating relief measures with international NGOs like Oxfam, CARE, CRS, Action Aid and professional bodies like the Indian Medical Association, the Indian Academy of Pediatrics, and local NGOs.

 

 
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