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Tea workers dying from lack of clean drinking water

Posted to the IUF website 08-Sep-2009

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On September 4, Sukesh Munda of Joy Birpara Tea Estate died from an enteric infection bringing the number of deaths from the disease to four in a one-week period. 100 workers were admitted to hospital in a single day bringing the total number of admissions to 250 by September 5.
The disease - acute diarrhoea is a main symptom - first showed up in a closed tea garden, Dheklapara at the end of August.
The local hospital in Birpara which has only 100 beds is unable to cope with the number of patients, and has been forced to get them to share beds or to sleep on blankets on the floor.
A local medical officer, Sujan Sarkar, has visited the area and confirmed to the press (Calcutta Telegraph) that the number of cases of enteric diseases was on the rise. He is quoted as saying "The situation is grim and if garden management do not ensure the supply of safe drinking water, there is nothing we can do."
He added that the medical service was doing everything it could to supply medicines, saline and oral rehydration solutions to the gardens but unless the source of the infection was controlled there was little that could be done.
IUF Asia/Pacific has been able to send a team to the area. Joydeb Barman, superintendent of the Birpara State Hospital told them that the hospital was struggling to deal with the situation. He said that workers preferred to come to the state hospital rather than stay on the garden hospital. He also said that drinking water in the tea gardens was "not up to the mark".
The IUF video report containg interviews with medical staff and patients can be seen at: