UNICEF makes a difference - water borne epidemics prevented in Anand, Gujarat
Anand, known as the “milk capital” and seat of cooperative
“All the Primary Health Centres were under water and all the medical officers and health workers were affected by the floods”, says Dr S C Vashishth, Chief District Health Officer (CDHO) of Anand. Medical Officers of various Primary Health Centres (PHCs) were making frantic calls to the CDHO for immediate help. “However, we ourselves were under the siege of water and stranded in my office – with four other staff, without food and electricity”, said Dr Vashishth. Recalling the gravity of the situation, Urmilaben Christian, District Public Health Nurse said that they had to spend four days in the office, surviving on bananas.
Despite difficulties in moving out of their PHCs, the Medical Officers and para-medical staff continued to perform their duty at the risk of their lives in providing critical health services to people in the marooned villages. “I asked the Sarpanch of Rampura village not to release drinking water from the overhead tank till further instructions. Meanwhile, with the help of paramedical staff in my PHC, I chlorinated the village tank and only then the water was released for public use”, says Dr Rajesh Patel, Medical Officer Bakrol PHC which was submerged in five feet water.
“Till date, no outbreak of any epidemic of water-borne disease has been reported. This has been made possible only because of the timely assistance provided by UNICEF in supplying chlorine tablets, ORS packets, bleaching powder and medicines”, says the CDHO. As no trucks were available, the CDHO immediately hired State Transport Buses and sent the supplies received from UNICEF to the PHCs. The CDHO and his team worked tirelessly to ensure prompt distribution of ORS packets and the chlorine tablets to the affected people.
Dr Rajesh Patel, Medical Officer Incharge of Bakrol PHC mentioned that despite a lurking fear of epidemics after heavy rains, no abnormal increase in cases of gastroenteritis or any other water-borne disease has been reported. He further adds, “ORS packets and chlorine tablets supplied by UNICEF have been distributed house-to-house. These have also been stored with anganwadi workers, panchayat members and social workers for immediate access. Utilization is being monitored on a daily basis and stocks are being replenished immediately. Fortunately, this time, there has been no shortage of these critical supplies.” A relieved and satisfied Urmilaben, the District Public Health Nurse, expresses, “During the floods, only rain water was available for drinking purpose. It is simply because of UNICEF chlorine goli (tablet)that we were able to avert an epidemic of gastroenteritis.”