Psychiatric cases have shot up to over 25 percent this year among the Bhutanese refugees living in camps in Jhapa and Morang.
Dr. Madhurima Badre, the project director of AMDA-Nepal Primary Health Care Project for Bhutanese Refugees said, “Cases of depression have gone up significantly by almost 25 percent among the refugees.” AMDA (Association of Medical Doctors of Asia) monitors and offers health services to 80,000 refugees living in three camps in Jhapa and one in Morang.
According to Dr. Nirmal Rimal Amda of Damak Hospital, in comparison to local population, the refugees are suffering mainly from anxiety depression, in which a depressed individual may experience anxiety symptoms like panic attacks or anxiety disorder (e.g. PTSD, panic disorder, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, etc.).
“Due to confinement in camps for over 17 years, the refugees suffer from depression,” Dr. Amda said, adding, “Even in case of third country resettlement, the refugees are experiencing anxiety generating from fear of going to unknown lands.”
Doctors also said that the older generation is attuned to develop acute depression symptoms. “This is due to long stay in the camps, their unfulfilled desire to return to their country and old age,” Dr. Ganesh Mandol, in-charge of health camps in Jhapa told República.
There were 1,200 cases of depression and hyper-tension last year but the number has significantly risen, Mondol informed.
Other illnesses among the refugees are tuberculosis, diabetes, acute-respiratory infection, gastrointestinal problems and COPD (asthma).
In this regard, the Global Medical Aid (GMA), Denmark, and organization working in health sector, has donated medicines worth Rs 25 million to refugee camps. For treating anxiety depression, it has donated 7,500 tablets of Citalopram and 10,000 Escitaloprame.
“We have distributed medicines through AMDA free of cost so that the refugees could have better access to health care,” Ranjan Ojha, vice-president of GMA, said stressing the rise in depression cases.
He informed that other medications like antibiotics and medicines for cancer treatment have been distributed as well. GMA has supplied medicines to hospitals in Damak and Dhulabari in Jhapa district and also in Rupendehi and Jorpati in Kathmandu through AMDA.
Stating that the main objective of the project is to distribute medicines free of cost to the poor, Ojha said, “We want to reach out to the poor mass that have less or no access to medicine supply.”
He also added that GMA is planning to organize free health camp across Nepal starting from Gaccha in Morang district.
GMA has also distributed medicines in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and others and is the only Danish organization involved in such social work.