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Endosulfan: No respite, no relief
The residents of Kasargod have been suffering from serious ailments and congenital deformities due to endosulfan spraying since the late 1970s and new patients are being diagnosed even today. But the government is yet to set up a decent medical facility in the district.
The local hospital is ill-equipped and the nearest super-specialty hospital is 100 km away in Pariyaram. The hilly terrain makes it difficult for the victims - many are crippled due to exposure to the pesticide - to even reach the main road that takes one to this hospital. "We need basic living standards, road and transportation facilities to take victims to hospitals," says Ashraf, a health inspector from Mooliyar.
The Kerala government has been struggling to draw up a plan for the rehabilitation of nearly 10, 000 victims as each case is unique. There is a need for a variety of rehabilitation methods rather than handsome compensation, according to experts.
The list of victims is growing every day. Recently, some residents of Idukki and Palakkad districts in Kerala and Bhatkala district in northern Karnataka were also found to be suffering from endosulfanrelated disorders. "In Kasargod, too, there are many more victims who are still to be identified. Many people are still kept inside darkened houses. Women don't seek medical help so their problems are undiagnosed and a significant number of women from middle class families prefer to secretly abort their pregnancies," says Ashraf.
State health authorities claimed they were providing free treatment to 4, 273 identified victims. "We have started distributing health cards to the victims which will entitle them to free treatment or surgery at any of the 11 medical colleges in the state," said Jose D'cruz, the district medical officer. "We have also given vehicles to primary health centres so volunteers can reach victims at any time."
Activist Shree Badre says the government should immediately set up a residential facility for victims who are bedridden. "Who will take care of them after their parents die?" he asks.
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