Ignorance, superstition and witchcraft practice cost lives in Orissa

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Rayagada (Orissa), Dec 4(ANI): Blind belief, ignorance and practice of witchcraft among a majority of villagers in Orissa's Rayagada district has led to the death of two children and a middle-aged man.

According to reports, they have died after their families tried witchcraft to treat ailing persons in the grip of severe fever and cold.

"Three people have died here - two little kids and a middle aged man. Initially, due to their superstition they were getting themselves treated through witchcraft. When we were informed of this, we convinced them to take medical help. Now, the doctors have given them saline water and other medicines," said Mahaswini Parida, a medical assistant at a Primary Health Centre in Rayagada district.

"Now, people have understood that witchcraft cannot help them so they are taking proper medicines," Parida added.

Although many people resorted to local witchcraft traditions, thereby worsening the condition of the ailing cases, the fact has been that the nearest medical centres for most of the villages are situated beyond a distance of 15 kilometres.

"Initially, a couple of people got sick, and then suddenly a lot of people fell sick. It was like, when we got medical help for one person, the other one fell sick. Since the nearest medical clinic is very far off from here, it is very inconvenient for us. Roads are not good, so that's an additional problem in transportation," said Nilakantha Majhi, a villager.

"All the water bodies around here are also very dirty. Even the drinking water is not pure. It is because of all these reasons that we are facing so many medical problems," Majhi added.

While three people have died, six more are stricken with high fever and common cold and reportedly their condition worsened due to late medical help and unhygienic conditions.

Reportedly, a good many have been infected and the situation is still better off when compared to others.

Meanwhile, doctors from District Hospital and other health centres have geared up to visit the village as soon as they get to know of any worsening situation.

"All patients' vitals are stable. There is nothing to be worried.Most cases are of common cold. So there is no need for any fear. All patients have been given saline water. We have ambulances here and there are one or two sick patients that we'll carry to our clinic. I assure the people that they should not panic," said Dr. Biswanath Raut, Medical Officer of Kashipur.

The doctors claim to have brought the situation under control, but the villagers' dependence on witchcraft as a therapy is a far more serious matter to ponder. (ANI)

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