At least 140 people have died from cholera and diarrhoeal diseases in the Indian state of Orissa. Worst hit is Rayagada district, where 39 deaths have ocurred and 784 affected persons have received medical attention since first week of August 2010. After fierce criticism from opposition parties, accusing the state government for failing to contain the outbreak, Health Minister Prasanna Acharya and the Secretary of the Rural Development Department, which oversees drinking water facilities, rushed to the Rayagada district on 14 September 2010 to take stock of the situation. One opposition leader (Tara Prasad Bahinipati, Congress) claimed that over 600 people had already died in undivided Koraput district.
In Rayagada district, according to official sources, 39 deaths have occurred till date, while unofficial figures put the mark at over 65. Regional Medical Research Centre, Bhubaneswar, has confirmed the prevalence of cholera in the district. [...] To assist the existing medical teams, 70 more personnel, comprising 30 doctors and 40 paramedics, are being sent to the district.
Back in 2007, a cholera and diarrhoea epidemic in Rayagada district had claimed over 100 lives.
Non-availability of clean drinking water, faecal contamination of drinking water sources, lack of awareness about sanitation among tribals living in remote pockets and slow progress of the Total Sanitation Campaign are the reasons behind the recurring cholera and diarrhoea outbreaks in this district during monsoon, said Chief District Medical Officer of Rayagada, B.D. Nayak.
Lack of doctors and communication facilities in remote areas adds to the problem. Fifty-nine posts of doctors are vacant in Rayagada district.