Measles, neglect killed the 9 Sitakunda kids

DGHS says sorry as it finds the children weren't vaccinated, suffered from malnutrition, didn't get proper treatment
A happy Suman Tripura playing with his baby girl Shapna while his two other children Jharna and Jatindra look on with smiles on their faces at Chittagong Medical College Hospital yesterday. Doctors say all the sick children from Tripura Para admitted to the hospital were recovering after they were given proper treatment and nutrition. Meanwhile, IEDCR and the health directorate yesterday said children in the remote hilly area in Sitakunda were suffering from measles. The disease spread and killed some as the victims were already suffering from malnutrition. They were also unvaccinated. Photo: Anurup Kanti Das

Medical examinations have confirmed measles as the cause of death of nine children at Tripura Para in Sitakunda upazila of Chittagong.

The children were never vaccinated, and people of the area have not received any health service whatsoever from the government, said officials of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) at a press conference yesterday.

Prof Abul Kalam Azad, director general of the DGHS, said the authorities became certain from the test results of blood and serum samples from the affected children that they had been infected by the germs of measles.

"They [the deceased children] were suffering from malnutrition too, which caused the disease to take a serious turn," he said at the conference held at the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR).

The deaths could have been prevented if the children were given proper treatment, he said, apologising for the sad and irreversible event.

Meanwhile, one more child, from Sonachori union, was hospitalised yesterday, reports our correspondent from Chittagong.

With the latest one, the number of hospitalised children having similar symptoms rose to 88.

Of them, 53 have been receiving treatment at Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH) while the rest at Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Disease (BITID) in Fouzderhat.

A medical team from Dhaka went there and collected blood and serum samples from the affected children.

At the press conference, the director general, accompanied by a WHO medical officer, assured that no more person would be infected with the virus since a temporary centre had been set up in the affected area to conduct an immunisation programme.

About Tripura Para having been left out of the government's vaccination campaign, Prof Azad said the vaccination programme was on as per a “micro plan” at the ward level, but somehow Tripura Para, a small area resided by 85 families, remained out of the coverage. 

“Now we have decided to overhaul the whole micro-plan system at the village level,” to check if any small area is out of the immunisation programme, he said, adding that a committee would be formed to find out the people responsible for the exclusion of the area.

All the children receiving treatment now are between one and 12 years. The symptoms include fever, rash, breathing problems, vomiting, and blood in stool, said Azizur Rahman Siddique, civil surgeon of Chittagong.

Twelve-year-old Rina Laxmi Tripura got fever and rash on Sunday night. "She was fine till yesterday [Sunday] afternoon and worked in the orchard with me, but became sick at night,” her father Trimal Tripura said.

She was admitted to the BITID in Fouzderhat yesterday.


The condition of many of the children admitted to the hospitals in Chittagong is improving.

Annabala Tripura was seen feeding her six-year-old son Sujan yesterday.

She said Sujan was now having food. “When we bought him to hospital, he was suffering from high fever and could not eat anything. Now he doesn't have fever.”

Three siblings -- Jatindra, 7, Jharna, 5, and Swapna, 4, -- were seen taking meal and playing together at the CMCH paediatrics ward.

Their father Suman Tripura said his children had fallen ill with similar symptoms over a week ago.

"Now I feel good, as my children are recovering."

Some children did not recover yet in the hospital. Sumita was one of them. The four-year-old was admitted to the CMCH on Friday.

Her father Nayan Tripura said he was worrying about his child.

Prof Pranab Kumar Chowdhury, head of the CMCH paediatrics department, said the children were getting well as they were responding to the treatment.

"Symptoms show that most of them are suffering from measles.... As the children were not vaccinated and they did not even take vitamin A capsule, their physical immunity was very poor.”


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