Current Affairs

Health workers in Kapilvastu giving their best in fighting the pandemic

Prakash Acharya

Kapilvastu– Tarai districts bordering India have become the epicentre of Covid-19 pandemic in Nepal. Health workers in the region are busy fighting the pandemic.

Health personnel have been delivering their best right from the initial phase of the pandemic when fear permeated the environment. They collected swabs without fear to carry out PCR tests on bodies of people who died in quarantine centres and people who died in suspicious circumstances.

Three of these lionhearted health workers are Sanjeev Kumar Singh, lab assistant at Kapilvastu district hospital; Amar Bahadur Pun, working at primary health post in Maharajgunj Municipality; and Jib Lal Bhusal, lab technician at Lumbini Provincial Hospital.

These technicians have taken these challenging duties and opportunities to stop corona transmissions and to save people’s lives.

Singh completed lab technician course (BMLT) in 2014 and passed government tests to work at Kapilvastu District Hospital. He always thought that health staff should always be on duty.

Covid-19 appeared in Nepal in March. The government designated districts in Tarai under ‘red zone’ after virus started to spread.

Singh started working at the Municipality office to collect swabs from people taken into custody for different crimes and conducted RDTs.

He obtained swabs from people who had come to Taulihawa from Mumbai, India. Altogether 125 people’s swabs were taken and 12 men among them were found corona positive.

A staff nurse working at Kapilvastu Hospital was found corona positive and Singh collected swabs of 118 people in the course of contact tracing.

He has collected 900 swabs till now and is one of most prolific swab collectors in the district.

Singh had to wear personal protection equipment in scorching heat in Tarai causing him to faint at times. But he did not lose spirit. He has been fearlessly working in risky areas where the concentration of corona infected is high.

He says, “My boots fill with sweat. All the clothes turn wet. I have lose consciousness at several places. But I continued with my duties after a short rest.”

He recommends the state to spend funds on PCRs rather than RDTs.

Lab Assistant Amar Bahadur Pun also started working right from the beginning of Covid-19 outbreak. Hailing from Saina Maina Municipality in Rupandehi district, he has been working in Kapilvastu distict since 2014.

He says, “I don’t fear corona. I must carry out my duties to save people from getting infected. It is my responsibility to save myself and others.”

He has collected swabs from more than 650 people.

Pun has not been able to meet since lockdown with his wife Roma Gurung who is a staff nurse at Arghakhanchi district hospital.

He says, “All fears slowly dissipated after I kept working. We can save ourselves and others as well if we maintain safety.”

Pun says that the state should properly evaluate the contributions of health workers who have been taking risks at the frontline. Even if the government promised 100 percent risk allowances to health workers fighting the coronavirus, it is yet to deliver.

Swab-collectors

Babu Ram Thapa came to corona special hospital at Butwal on the first week of lockdown. He died while undergoing the treatment. There was a need to take his swab to determine whether he had died of corona or from another cause.

Many health workers did not dare to take the swab. But Jib Lal Bhusal, lab technician at Lumbini Provincial Hospital, took swabs from Baburam Thapa whose report came negative.

Bhusal has taken 100 swabs till date.

He had gained experiences in working to control different pandemics. “I had worked during outbreaks in Dailekh district. I always feel that we have to carry out our duties and take every challenge as an opportunity to show our dedication and skills.”

Bhusal is in medical field since 2003. He asks the state to introduce packages to encourage health workers.

Lab technicians have been collecting swabs professionally before sending them to the lab.

“Temperature from 2 to 8 degree is essential in keeping the swabs safe, otherwise swab test may come out wrong,” Singh says. “It takes around a minute or two to take a person’s swab.”

(This report has been prepared in collaboration with Freedom Forum.)

Published on 22 June 2020

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