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Health crisis at Rohingya camp: My observation as a doctor

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11th-Nov-2017       
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Prof. Dr. M A Samad :
Most of the Rohingya refugees are women, children and elderly people.  Visiting the spot what we saw that the presence of active male of the age group from 25 to 55 are very less in number at the camps. We asked the many that where are the male members of their families, they replied that husbands, sons, brothers or fathers have been brutally killed.
Many women, children and elderly people who reached Bangladesh after walking a long and toilsome path for 5 to 10 days suffering tremendous physical afflictions, many were wounded, many bled, some were bearing infectious diseases, fever, skin diseases, diarrhea etc. They passed the long way even remaining unfed days together, drunk unsafe water from roadside ditch that caused waterborne diseases so it's totally a health mess may have turning to an epidemics.
As a Nephrologist what I feel that there have some level of diseases from where many patients may fall attacked by CKD, of them Diarrhea is main. They are consuming whatever is available to meet the appetite, kids are already suffering mal-nutrition as a result kids are also facing risk of kidney diseases, even if they survive they may have fall attacked by CKD because the risk kids becoming affected by CKD is 30 percent more than that of the matured people. So most of these children are under risk of death. It is felt that the kids among the Rohingyas are most vulnerable.
Before we reached over their from KAMPS with relief, we heard that they have demands of everything including food, shelter, clothing, medicine, health care etc. so as a healthcare giving voluntary organization we preferred medicine, health care items and foods mainly for distributing among them. What we distributed sufficiently are ORS, Medicine, Biscuit, beaten rice, molasses, soap etc. We taught them to wash hands before eating so that they can save themselves from diseases. This initiative can save people from Jaundice, Typhoid etc.
As a huge number of Rohingya members are gathering in Coxsbazar so naturally it has been hard to manage them properly, distributing relief materials among them equally has also been a challenge. Many organizations are distributing different items of relief and also providing health care to them scattered, so it needs a strong management, coordination and discipline so that the services can be reached to everyone.
We entered deep into of the camp upto the 3 kilometers where we found many sick people lying in their shelters even having no physical strength to go out for collecting relief. It was seen that some are collecting foods twice or thrice while many are remaining unfed or not getting any medicine.
There were many children affected by mal-nutrition who need immediate treatment. The Military team tried their best to maintain discipline and distribute relief properly. There is no shortage of relief materials so if it is managed properly then it is possible to reach food and medicine to all.
I feel strongly that we who are solvent and leading normal lives, should come forward and think of the Rohingyas who are passing nights unfed or sleep less, marooned or under heat of sunshine. I urge people from all walks of lives to extend side by side the government so that the government's initiative of extending humanitarian support to them may gain a success.
From KAMPS we have already visited Rohingya camp twice and distributed good quantity of food and medicine again I said my volunteers to take further move to collect necessary materials including medicine and visit the camp again to extend support to them.
I would like to suggest those who are taking relief materials at the Rohingya camps to mind one thig that include sufficient medicine and nutritional items in their relief lists so that the health issues can be addressed properly.
Infection is occurring due to lack of vitamin-C as a result the healing rate is also decreasing. This time we have distributed 40,000 pieces of Vitamin-C free so that 40,000 children may get at least 1 peace each and be benefited. We think that whoever distribute foods over there should keep in mind about the balanced dieting of the children or elderly people so that their health can be saved.
Winter is knocking at the door, huge quantity of winter cloths will be needed for them, this also to be thought. The medical teams that are working over there, have to think of disciplined health care giving issue so that all the deserving members may get minimum support to save life or to remain sound.
We, on behalf of KAMPS, will conduct a survey on how many Rohingya members are suffering from kidney related problems or how many are facing risk of this disease and what remedial measures are on over there and what to be done.
From KAMPS we have taken the measure to the best of our capacity, we have collected relief materials from the support of our relatives, members, and friends, neighbors who are affluent or capable. Similarly if people from home and abroad come forward to extend hands of cooperation to the Rohingya members it will be easy to face the crisis by our government. We have to form a wall to resist the possible diseases that may take turn in an epidemic form.
KAMPS mainly aims at awaking general people regarding their health and hygiene, at the same time to inspire them to be habituated with a sound lifestyle by having healthy foods and practicing day to day regulations related to maintaining good health.
I believe that a healthy lifestyle should be maintained by all irrespective of rich or poor people. Although KAMPS mainly works on Kidney diseases but we provide health care support free of cost to the poors in other types of diseases like hypertension, diabetes etc. We work to prevent the infectious or communicable diseases. KAMPS went to Rohingya camp to stand by them with humanitarian support. We distributed medicine and also provide treatment to the wounded members. We distributed awareness leaflet, posters, banners so that people may get knowledge how to remain save from different diseases. What we understood visiting the spot is that the demand of humanitarian support for the Roingyas is acute and endless so the rich segment of the society should respond to this humanitarian cause.
There have a lot of kindhearted people in our country when they will come to know about the misery of Rohingyas they must come forward. As the risk of kidney diseases has increased significantly over there, so KAMPS's presence was very important over there for having a survey so that a way of prevention can be created.
As the Rohingyas may stay long time here so we are also taking preparation to take some permanent measures, we aim to provide much more support to them several times in near future.                       

 (Prof. Dr. M A Samad, Chairman, KAMPS and Chief Consultant, Department of Nephrology, LabAid Specialized Hospitals, Dhaka.)

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