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Nepal bills to address quake reconstruction, Madhesis

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Kathmandu: The Nepal government tabled two bills in the parliament amidst the instability in the country borne by the devastating earthquake and protesting Madhesis. The “Nepal Reconstruction Authority” bill seeks to rebuild the earthquake-hit country while another seeks to address the concerns of the Madhesis who are protesting for a constitutional amendment.

The reconstruction bill was tabled eight months after the earthquake. The delay was a result of finding a CEO for the authority that was acceptable to the two largest parties in the parliament. The erstwhile Nepali Congress government had introduced an ordinance and appointed Govinda Pokhrel as CEO, but later the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxists-Leninists), the second largest party in parliament, did not support the conversion of the ordinance into a bill.

Over $4 billion dollars was committed by International donors to reconstruct earthquake struck Nepal. However, not a penny has been spent due to the failure to construct a competent authority. Under overwhelming pressure from National and International quarters, the ruling dispensation was compelled to negotiate with other political parties to formulate an acceptable bill.

Another bill tabled in the parliament sought to resolve the simmering agitation of the Madhesis for proportional representation under the new constitution. The bill aims to amend the Constitution to ensure inclusive proportional representation of ethnic minorities in various state entities apart from the Nepal Army and redrawing the electoral constituencies based on population.

The southern plains comprise over 50 percent of the country’s population and if this bill is passed, the plains will have a majority representation in parliament after the next general elections.

However, the Madhesi leaders have opposed the move saying that were not consulted before the tabling of the bill. The agitating Madhesi parties have refused to accept the constitution amendment bill, claiming that it failed to address their concerns.

The government feels that the constitution amendment bill will address some grievances of the agitating Madhesi leading to an end to the ongoing demonstrations at Nepal-India border entry points.

Due to the ongoing agitation, thousands of Nepal-bound cargo vehicles have not been able to enter Nepal from India since the last four months. As a result, Nepal is facing a serious shortage of essential supplies like food, medicines, fuel and other items. (IANS)

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Fear of Leprosy Resurgence in Nepal

There are only three staff working in the leprosy section and the same team looks after the disability programme, as well, he told the newspaper

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Leprosy, Wikimedia

Health officials in Nepal fear leprosy resurgence in the country with prevalence rate reaching 0.94 per cent in 2018.

Leprosy-free status was given to the Himalayan nation after it declared elimination of the disease in 2009. However, that status could be lost if prevalence rate reaches one per cent of total population, Kathmandu Post reported on Thursday.

Experts already fear that this marks the resurgence of the disease in Nepal. The percentage could be more, an official said, as the current given figures have been derived just from preliminary data.

The Leprosy Control and Disability (LCD) section of Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) of Department of Health Services said that the prevalence rate was 0.92 and 0.89 in 2017 and 2016, respectively, the news report said.

“It will be a great setback for the country if it loses the status,” said Rabindra Baskota, a doctor and chief of the LCD section.

Incubation period of leprosy varies from one to 20 years and diagnosis of more patients could help stop the further spread of the disease, according to him.

An amputated leg, claw toes and claw hands of leprosy patient Gopal Bag are seen at the Leprosy Mission Trust India hospital. Kolkata. VOA

“It will take only a couple of years to reach one percent if this upward trend continues,” he added.

The prevalence rate is over one per cent in various districts of the Tarai region, Baskota said, adding that the country had received the leprosy eliminated status, after reducing its prevalence rate by 0.77 per cent, in 2009.

Sishir Silwal, a focal person for the leprosy control programme in Gulmi district, said regular review meetings for leprosy, which should be held every four months, has not been held for the last eight months.

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Kathmandu Post quoted Bibek Kumar Lal, Director at EDCD, as saying that there is a severe crunch in manpower that hinders proper functioning.

There are only three staff working in the leprosy section and the same team looks after the disability programme, as well, he told the newspaper.

Leprosy, a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, is transmitted through nasal secretion or from droplets from the mouth. It affects the skin, peripheral nerves and eyes, leading to disfigurement and nerve damage. The disease is curable with a multi-drug therapy. (IANS)