Sep 07, 2021 News
By Shervin Belgrave
Kaieteur News – As several mining communities located along the Cuyuni River, Region Seven, remain severely flooded; there has been an unprecedented increase in cases of malaria and dengue.
This state of affairs was recently brought to the attention of this publication by miners working in the affected areas. Kaieteur News had visited the area along with the Region Seven Chairman, Kenneth Williams, and the US Embassy’s Civil Affairs Team to learn of health concerns that the miners are facing.
The areas visited were Warudi, Wyamu, Quartzstone, Aurora, Two Points, Devil’s Hole and Duquarie. As a reporter from this newspaper chatted with the miners, it became clear that the reoccurring health complaints in these areas were malaria and dengue. There were even complaints of typhoid, but according to the miners, recently they have been heavily plagued with dengue and malaria.
At Warudi, as the boat approached the landing, it could be observed that a number of the shops and houses were flooded; some of buildings were almost covered. Mary, a resident of Warudi, who is lucky enough to be on dry land, said that she was flooded too but the waters receded a bit and her premises was left as a little island.
Asked about the health problems or illnesses that miners of Warudi are facing, Mary responded “Nothing else but malaria.” The woman said malaria is common in mining areas but recently in Warudi there seems to be an increase in cases of Vivax (a type of malaria). In fact, she said, her sister took ill a few days earlier.
According to Mary, she had taken her sister to Bartica to get her tested and the malaria results returned positive. Normally, according to Mary, most persons would contract malaria at mining camps located miles away from the landing.
However, recently, shop owners living at the landing with their family are becoming infected which in her view is not normal.
When Kaieteur News arrived at the other areas along the way, the miners working in those areas also complained of a malaria and dengue increase. Like Warudi, the other mining communities that this newspaper visited were all flooded.
At Quartzstone, one miner related that his wife had taken ill with fever and headache. He suspected that she was infected with malaria since other persons who were diagnosed with the disease had similar symptoms. “Everybody tekkin down with malaria so I tell she to ketch a boat and go to Bartica to take a test,” he said.
According to miner, his wife was reluctant to travel alone because of the rapids along the Cuyuni River and she decided to wait until he had completed his shift rotation to accompany her. While he waited to complete the rotation, his wife used homemade herbal medicine to treat herself.
After Quartzstone, the next location visited was Aurora. Welcoming this media house there was a miner called “Bunchie.” He requested mosquito nets to protect his colleagues, his family and himself from the malaria mosquitoes. “Some people went down here the other day and they promise us the mosquito nets but they have not returned. We would be grateful for some nets and repellents to protect us from malaria,” Bunchie said.
A little further along the Cuyuni River at Two Points Backdam, the miners and shopkeepers there related stories of persons who had to be rushed for medical attention because they were very ill with suspected malaria and typhoid.
Kaieteur News continued its journey and at another location there were some Brazilian miners. One of the members of the US Civil Affairs Team had asked them about the health concerns they were facing. A female shopkeeper responded, “share dengue, share dengue!”
At the end of the journey, a medic with the US team, Roberto-Ruiz Acevedo, told Kaieteur News that the reported increase in malaria and dengue cases in the area could be linked to the flood situation that has been affecting the Cuyuni District for over a month now.
“It would make sense that it is on the water and a lot of sitting water especially due to the recent flooding, so you are going to run into different variations of malaria and dengue,” related Acevedo.
During the visit the miners detailed that they have been under water since the beginning of August. Many of them said that it is first time that they have experienced a flooding situation of this nature. Not only are they forced to live with the floodwaters but they are unable to work since the mining pits are flooded.
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