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Epidemic of hepatitis in Czech town: Local Romani organization offers aid

24.11.2017 8:08
The Předlice quarter in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic. (PHOTO:  Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)
The Předlice quarter in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic. (PHOTO: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)

The Czech town of Ústí nad Labem is undergoing an epidemic of hepatitis A, with almost 300 people ill and the disease spreading to other towns in the region. The first outbreak of the epidemic was recorded in the Mojžíř socially excluded locality and other cases have been recorded in Předlice, with the disease later spreading to the "non-Romani" part of town.

A large proportion of those who fell ill are children. City hall and the public health station have undertaken several measures - vaccinations are underway in the schools affected, money has been allocated for the purchase of necessary hygienic materials for the schools and state-run organizations, and supermarkets and the transit authority are doing their best to disinfect their spaces.

The epidemic of hepatitis is partially a direct consequence of the situation in the local ghettoes. There are locations in the town where families have no running water, no bathing facilities, and are literally living in a dump site, places infested with bugs and rats.

These sites are reminiscent of third-world situations. On 16 November the AMARE Předlice group issued a press release stating that they believe the spread of the epidemic will not be halted until the hygiene situation in the ghettoes is improved.

The organization has been calling on the responsible institutions to accelerate measures to correct the desperate hygiene situation in the socially excluded localities. It is necessary to arrange for public health norms to be upheld throughout the entire territory of the city.

Access to potable water must be arranged for people at the outbreak sites of infection so they can uphold the principles of hygiene. It is also necessary to arrange for cleanups of the massive waste dumps in the ghettoes and to address another epidemic of parasites.

AMARE Předlice believes the situation is most acute in the neighborhood of Sklářská Street. For the measures to actually be effective and functional, those most affected must be involved in their planning, implementation and assessment, i.e., the citizens living in socially excluded localities.

The organization is calling on the responsible institutions to establish a working group to address the hepatitis epidemic and to invite representatives of those living directly in the places described as the outbreak sites of this infection to be involved in its resolution. AMARE Předlice, a local Romani organization, is offering aid and assistance with the organization of such a working group and with the involvement of people from the socially excluded localities in its work.

press release of AMARE Předlice, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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