Teachers worry about scabies epidemic risk in earthquake-torn Hatay school

Teachers of a middle school in Turkey’s earthquake-torn province of Hatay have reported over 70 cases of scabies in students. Teachers complained about the remaining uncollected rubble in the neighborhood, frequent water shortages, and the resulting unhygienic conditions. 

Burcu Özkaya Günaydın / Gazete Duvar

Scabies cases have increased at the Yıldırım Beyazıt Middle School in Turkey’s earthquake-torn province of Hatay. Teachers reported over 70 cases of scabies in students in the first weeks of November. They are concerned about a full-blown epidemic in the region. 

Teachers claimed that officials did not collect the earthquake rubble in the neighborhood, and frequent water shortages caused unhygienic conditions.

Teachers and representatives of the All Teachers Union (TÖB-SEN) reported that the Yıldırım Beyazıt Middle School experienced frequent water shortages that sometimes last up to a week and that students are often unable to shower. Teachers expressed that the conditions at the school were unpleasant and demanded an immediate solution. 

Union representatives underscored that the problem prevailed in all schools of Hatay. They stated that the classrooms, and bathrooms were dirty in the schools, and hygiene products were lacking.

Deniz Ezer from TÖB-SEN explained the problem, “Water cuts off often. We also don’t know where the city water comes from. Earthquake survivors live in crowded and small tents. Safe drinking water, toilet, and hygiene facilities are still not fully established in living quarters.” 

The teachers said that their complaints were ignored by government officials. They demanded the improvement of hygiene conditions in the schools of Hatay. 

Hatay was one of the provinces most affected by the Feb. 6 earthquakes. According to the official figures, more than 200,000 buildings either collapsed or were severely damaged due to the quakes in 11 provinces. 

Tent and container towns were established in the months following the earthquakes. Health concerns due to unhygienic living conditions and asbestos released from the rubble persist nine months after the earthquake.

During the period following the earthquake, over two million earthquake victims were living in tent cities and 40,000 in containers. There are no official numbers on the quake survivors currently living in tents and containers. Residents’ worries persist about the incoming winter conditions.

(English version by Ayşenaz Toptaş)