The Irrawaddy

Seasonal Illness Claims Four Young Lives in Naga Zone

A child suffers in the village of Lan Pan where seasonal influenza has claimed the lives of four children since the last week of August. Sing Maung Yawngva / Facebook

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Four children, in the village of Lan Pan near Don Hee town in Nanyun Township of Sagaing Region’s Naga Self-Administered Zone, have died of seasonal flu in the past week, with at least four other villages also suffering from a wave of the seasonal illness for the past two weeks.

Four children aged between one month and 10 years old died of acute cases of influenza on Aug. 25, 26 and 28, and Sept. 2, according to Sing Maung Yawngva, the Sagaing regional lawmaker for Nanyun Township.

“Even though it is regarded as seasonal flu, the malnutrition of the children causes them to be too weak to fight against the illness and thus subsequently leads to loss of life,” explained the lawmaker.

Almost all of the villagers are suffering from seasonal illnesses, with 357 out of the total 425 villagers currently sick with the flu, he added, after visiting villagers of Lan Pan, some 80 miles away from Nanyun Township.

A one-and-a-half-year-old girl died on Sunday. She was brought back from Lahe Township hospital after a day, as the hospital could not help her, he told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

The Naga Self-Administered Zone Office released a statement on Thursday, Aug. 30, saying that treatments and necessary medicines are being provided to the villagers of Wan Yote Village near Don Hee from where information about the illness was first received on Aug. 20. It said treatments have been given to the villagers suffering from sicknesses and there should be no more concern in Wan Yote. However, no information has yet been released about the village of Lam Pan.

The regional government and civil society groups such as the Eastern Naga Development Organization have rushed to provide medicine and healthcare support to the villagers.

Lam Pan and Wan Yote villages are about 10 miles apart and do not yet have telecommunication accessibility.

Road access to those villages near Don Hee is very difficult and it takes at least three hours to drive on motorbike from the town of Don Hee to Lan Pan, locals told The Irrawaddy.

U Lautu, a resident of the town of Don Hee said that as the town has a hospital with healthcare staff and both civilian and military physicians, the residents are generally free from such health threats.

As well as the lack of access to healthcare, transport and communication in these remote villages, the regional lawmaker said, unhealthy lifestyles and a lack of knowledge on hygiene contribute to making the illness worse.

On Monday, Sing Mawng Yawngva said the villagers in Wan Yote, Lam Pan and Ha Houng villages are recovering from their illnesses but healthcare provisions will still be needed for at least a week or so.

“We need to wait and see, only when healthcare experts confirm the situation and we can be sure the disease is under control,” the lawmaker said.

Two years ago, 80 children in the Naga region reportedly died from a measles outbreak, however, the official figure on the death toll was only 41.