Disease outbreak threatens Nepal's earthquake survivors

Medical workers try to prevent spread of disease in quake's aftermath, with clean water and toilets in short supply.

    Survivors of Nepal's major earthquake are facing the threat of a disease outbreak due to a severe shortage of clean water and toilets.

    Al Jazeera's Subina Shrestha, reporting from the village of Dukuchap in Lalitpur area, said on Friday that locals were suffering from diarrhoea, stomach cramps and other diseases that could turn into epidemics if the cause of the problem was not stopped in time.

    "The water is thick and smelly, but we have to drink it," Kalpana Tamang, a Dukuchap village resident, told Al Jazeera.

    Dr Kishore Rana, a major general in the Nepalese army, said that in a number of villages the health centres and hospitals have been ruined and the areas depended on mobile medical teams - often foreigners.

    "Our plan is for other medical teams that can come here and stay here for a longer duration - three to six months," he said.

    "We'll be sending these teams to the areas were health posts and hospitals have been destroyed."

    Shrestha reported that "even at the best of times, the health system in Nepal has been rather poor".

    "For this village of Dukchap, the only health post is half an hour further up and the only thing they have is paracetamol."

    Essential medicines

    The World Health Organization (WHO) said that a quick assessment of Nepal's worst-hit districts has found some hospitals damaged or destroyed, but most were coping well with no extra staff or beds required.

    According to the WHO, there was a need for essential medicines, equipment and materials.

    The organisation said it was focused on preventing the possible spread of diarrhoeal diseases among at least 2.8 million displaced people, especially those living in 16 makeshift camps in the capital, Kathmandu.

    The death toll from Saturday's earthquake has reached more than 6,200 people. Almost 14,000 have been injured and thousands are still missing.

    Many of the monuments and temples in Kathmandu Valley, which was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, for seven distinct locations, were destroyed in the earthquake.

    Search and rescue teams continue their operation, clearing debris from crushed buildings and the centuries-old temples as well as getting aid to remote locations.

    The government has announced it will give every family, which has had a member killed in the earthquake, about $1,000 in compensation.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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