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Archive for July 19th, 2009

Meningitis and encephalitis swamp refugee camps

Posted by feww on July 19, 2009

Outbreaks of meningitis and encephalitis reported in northern Sri Lanka refugee camps

Deadly diseases erupt in refugee camps in northern Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Jul 19, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX) — Meningitis and encephalitis [an acute inflammation of the brain] have erupted in Sri Lanka’s northern Vavuniya district where about 300, 000 Tamils civilians displaced by the last phase of war between the government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels are being housed, a local newspaper said on Sunday.

The Sunday Times reported that 14 new encephalitis cases were detected in the Vavuniya General Hospital over the past week.

Vavuniya-based United Nations staff providing relief services to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have been advised to keep away from the hospital due to the outbreak of meningitis and encephalitis, the paper said.

UN officials were quoted by the paper as saying that the hospital employees at Vavuniya had failed to inform the authorities about the outbreak of the two diseases.

The paper said while the fatality rate of meningitis cases treated in all government hospitals in Sri Lanka from 2000 to 2005 had dropped to less than five percent, the fatality rate in the Vavuniya General Hospital is about 50 percent.

UN officials said diarrhea and hepatitis A are still prevalent in some of the IDP camps in Vavuniya.

UN officials also said health care, water distribution and supply of food items still need more attention in the camps because only about 36 percent of the total cost of 270 million U. S. dollars had been distributed.

There is not enough suitable land to build more toilets. The camps currently have only about 9,215 toilets while 15,000 are needed, UN officials said. The UN is warning of the effect the approaching rainy season might have on the camps, especially in low-lying areas.

The government said they need about six months to de-mine the once rebel controlled north and find out hidden Tamil Tiger rebels before the IDPs can return to their original homes.

After nearly 30 years’ struggle for a separate homeland for the minority Tamils in the north and east, the Tamil Tigers came to be wiped off in May as a result of a sustained military crackdown on them by the troops. copyright xinhua.

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