While the nation was celebrating Independence Day, residents in three of the five rehabilitation camps in Sindhanur taluk of Raichur district were grief-stricken. Lakshmikant Roy (24), a resident of the camp, who was admitted to the Vijayanagar Institute of Medical Science (VIMS), Bellary, died after a prolonged fight against suspected dengue.
Lakshmikant’s death and the increasing number of patients getting admitted to VIMS have created panic among the residents of the camps where Bangladeshi refugees have been living for the last 30 years following the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.
With three people from the camps admitted to hospital on Monday, the number of patients receiving medical treatment has gone up to 14.
Camps no. 2, 4 and 5 have been the most affected in the last five years. “Dengue appears in these three camps for three months annually. However, it was the most evident in February 2012 when 29 of the 70 residents were diagnosed with the fever. All of them survived after being given intensive medication,” said Anil Mandal, a resident of the camp. Even last month, 12 of the 30 patients from camp no. 2 were diagnosed with dengue. Seven of them recovered and returned home.
‘Poor living conditions’
According to Prashen Raftan, president of the Jana Kalyana Samsthe, the problem is owing to scarcity of water and unhygienic living conditions. “People stock drinking water for weeks as there is severe water crisis in the camps. The living space too has become insufficient as the population has grown to around 20,000,” he said.
Narayan, District Health and Family Welfare Officer, however, denied the allegation. “We have a fully functional primary health centre in one of the camps. Besides, we have, for the last five months, deployed a dedicated a team of health workers, led by a doctor, with all required infrastructure, including an ambulance. We have also taken up a special drive to clean water tanks and other areas where mosquitoes breed,” he told The Hindu on Monday.
According to Dr. Narayan, Raichur district, with 86 identified dengue cases since January 2014, is better off than many other districts that have reported over 300 dengue cases in the same period. “Of the 86 cases, 70 are from these rehabilitation camps,” he said.
However, State Health Director Geeta Nyamagouder said none of the deaths reported from the rehabilitation camps in Sindhanur taluk could be attributed to dengue.
She said blood samples of those suffering from fever had tested negative for dengue. “We have asked the district death audit committee to study the cause of deaths reported from the camps and submit a report,” she said.
Stating that the disease was under control in the State, the director said people had been mistaking any type of fever to be dengue. Health Minister U.T. Khader told The Hindu he would visit the taluk on August 27 or August 28 to take stock of the situation in the camps.