Odisha tribals resist diphtheria screening by health teams

Two children have already died from diphtheria in Bandhugaon block, and three suspected cases have been identified in neighbouring Narayanpatana.
Health dept has been giving 11 types of vaccines to prevent diseases like tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, hepatitis B, measles etc. Representational image
Health dept has been giving 11 types of vaccines to prevent diseases like tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, hepatitis B, measles etc. Representational image(Photo | P Ravikumar, EPS)

JEYPORE: Following the detection of diphtheria cases in Narayanpatana and Bandhugaon areas of Koraput district, health teams conducting door-to-door surveys are facing challenges in convincing tribal families to bring their sick children to hospitals for treatment.

Two children have already died from diphtheria in Bandhugaon block, and three suspected cases have been identified in neighbouring Narayanpatana.

In response, the health administration launched an intensive door-to-door survey to isolate and prevent further spread of the disease, particularly among children. Two health teams, each comprising ten members, are conducting daily surveillance in the Balipeta, Kumbhari and Kumbhariput panchayat areas.

These teams are performing swab tests on people with symptoms such as cold, cough, and throat infections, and advising hospitalisation at Narayanpatana and Bandhugaon community health centres (CHCs) for treatment. Despite these efforts, tribal families are often reluctant to admit their sick children to hospitals, preferring home remedies instead.

This reluctance hinders the health workers’ ability to accurately diagnose and treat the disease, as the diphtheria bacteria have not yet been fully eradicated from the region.

“We are facing a tough task to take the ailing persons to hospital as the tribal people are reluctant to get their ailing children to hospital and prefer local treatment at their doorsteps. They are taking their patients only after persuasion. Sometimes, intervention from the local administration is required to motivate people to send their ailing members to hospitals in these areas,” said Koraput ADMO NM Satapathy, who is monitoring the health situation in the affected areas.

Official sources report that two children are currently in isolation at Koraput Medical Hospital for suspected diphtheria. The health administration has decided to continue the door-to-door health survey in Narayanpatana and Bandhugaon for at least 20 days to control the outbreak.

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