Hundreds of people have been thronging medical relief camps in Jammu and Kashmir with complaints of nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, acute diarrhoea, severe skin allergies and infected wounds following the state’s devastating floods that have killed more than 200 people.
Hours after the army set up a medical relief camp in Srinagar’s Tengpura on Wednesday, it was inundated with people demanding medicines.
“Initially, a doctor was assigned for three hours in each camp, but the sheer number of people needing treatment made us run the clinic for the whole day from Thursday,” said Colonel Dinesh Singh, who is in-charge of the unit at Tengpura.
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Thousands of people have packed into relief camps in Kashmir following the worst floods in 60 years that have submerged vast swathes of land across the state.
“This is just the beginning, it will get worse when the water recedes and leaves behind contaminated food and water, causing diarrhoea, jaundice, cholera and typhoid,” said Dr Mohammad Yahiya Khan, a senior doctor with the government-run Bone & Joint Hospital in Barzullah.
Tempers have flared over what many people perceive as the slow response to the floods which seem to have taken the administration b surprise.
Authorities have more than 100,000 people across the state and distributed relief materials to people huddled in camps. Flood waters have been receding, but thousands are still stranded across the state.
“Clean drinking water is a problem. I have asked authorities to use the medicine liberally to reduce chances of disease," said chief minister Omar Abdullah. “Eight water filtration plants have been set up to distribute safe drinking water … Medicines and disinfectants such as chlorine, phenyl and DDT have been airlifted for supply in affected areas to prevent waterborne diseases.
The Union health ministry has dispatched 100 tonnes of 18 of 23 essential medicines and other supplies requested by the state government to replenish the depleting stock of basic medicines for fever, diarrhoea, headache and antiseptics.
"These are not enough. We need tetanus injections, antibiotics, oxygen, IV saline and glucose drips, and also medicines in paediatric doses for the thousands of children affected,” said a doctor in one of the army relief camps, who did not wish to be named.