Saturday, March 26, 2011

Chakma tribals fleeing village due to mystery disease

By Paritosh Chakma

TRIBAL VILLAGERS of Thanzamasora, a small Chakma-inhabited hamlet in Lunglei district of Mizoram are fleeing their homes after a 'mysterious' disease struck their village since early this month. This shows complete absence of health care facilities in this village.

So far, at least 5 tribals have died, many are sick, and 13 families have fled the village, as per the Mizoram Chakma Development Forum (MCDF), which submitted a petition today seeking urgent intervention of the Mizoram Chief Secretary, the Deputy Commissioner of Lunglei, and Lawngtlai Chief Medical Officer to “immediately provide medical facilities to prevent epidemic-like health crisis prevailing at Thanzamasora village”.

MCDF in a press release stated that “So far, five Chakma tribal villagers have died, and many others are sick but there is total lack of healthcare services. A medical team, which visited the village stated that the deaths were due to acute respiratory infections (ARI), including pneumonia.

The medical team distributed some medicines but this is not enough. Worst, the superstitious villagers believe that deaths are due to black magic cast upon them.

At least 13 families have already fled the village and more families are likely to flee if the situation is not brought under control immediately”.

“Although the situation is taking a serious proportion, there is delayed response from the authorities. There seems to be some problem as Thanzamasora village is under the administrative control of Lunglei district but falls under Chief Medical Officer, Lawngtlai of Lawngtlai district in the delivery of health services.

But villagers can’t be put at the mercy of fate” - further stated Mr Hemanta Lama, MCDF president.

In its petition, which has been forwarded to Chief Secretary of Mizoram, MCDF has requested the authorities to immediately send a team of medical experts with all the necessary equipments and medical facilities, establish a makeshift health camp at the village to treat the patients.

It has also been requested to shift critical patients to hospitals in Lunglei or Aizawl for better treatment, undertake awareness campaign with the help of local NGOs, take measures to bring back families, which have fled the village, and establish a Health Sub Centre with adequate number of staff and medical facilities at Thanzamasora village as a long-term solution.

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