IDP camps: Diseases on the wane, GMOA hits out at treatment of docs

The outbreak of diseases among the people in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Vavuniya, is declining with the prevailing dry conditions, but both medical officers and relief workers warn the forthcoming monsoon season may reverse the situation, if conditions do not improve in the camps.

However, skin diseases are prevalent among the IDPs the Sunday Times learnt, but authorities say it is not of an epidemic level. According to medical sources working in the camps many inmates have been consulting doctors over skin conditions.

“They mostly complain of continuous itchiness of the skin. They say they wash regularly and that the itchiness only starts when they wash. This may be due to the different levels of minerals found in the water that could cause irritation,” a medical officer who spoke on conditions of anonymity told the Sunday Times.

According to IDP Health Coordinator Dr. H. Herath there was no cause for alarm and there were no signs of it becoming an epidemic.

“We have not noticed an epidemic level in the outbreak of skin diseases. It is the normal level found in any part of the country. All skin conditions are treated and if we find a case of scabies we treat the entire family so that it does not spread,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times learns that toilet facilities and ambulance services are still inadequate in the camps situated outside the main camp site in Chettikulam. The Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) Spokesperson Upul Gunasekara also told the paper that food and drinking water that was earlier supplied to the doctors who served in these camps have been stopped.

“The authorities have informed them that it was not their duty to supply these facilities to doctors. How it suddenly came to be so is a mystery as they were supplying these items till two weeks back,” he said.
He also charged that overtime payment which were in arrears, had not been paid to these doctors.
“These doctors are undergoing a lot of hardship in the area and they should be the ones who are looked after. If doctors of the national hospital can be paid overtime payments I cannot understand why they don’t have money to pay these doctors who are working in Vavuniya,” Dr. Gunasekara said.

He blamed authorities for not appointing a proper administrator to oversee the IDP health sector. “We have spoken to the President, the Director General of Health Services and the Secretary of Ministry of Health but no one is taking any action. Even the IDP health coordination centre is a mess as they do not have proper administrators to execute the work. The doctors who are working there are frustrated with the situation. If this continues even we will not be able to control the situation,” Dr. Gunasekara warned.

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