Poor Behavioral Change Affects Bilharzia Treatment In Kabarole

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In short
The most affected areas are Kichwamba, Rutete, Kasenda, Busoro, Rwimi, Buheesi and Kibiito sub counties, which are surrounded by crater lakes. The treatment and prevention of the disease has been affected by increased contamination of the crater lakes and other water sources with human waste. Recently, the Bilharzia and Worm Control Program and the district health department released a report saying that the prevalence rate had increased from 4.2% to 29% in the past seven months.

Poor behavioral change habits are thwarting the treatment of Bilharzia in Kabarole district.
 
Bilharzia is caused by a type of flatworms or parasites released by freshwater snails which penetrate the human skin and mature into adults.
 
The most affected areas are Kichwamba, Rutete, Kasenda, Busoro, Rwimi, Buheesi and Kibiito sub counties, which are surrounded by crater lakes. The treatment and prevention of the disease has been affected by increased contamination of the crater lakes and other water sources with human waste. Recently, the Bilharzia and Worm Control Program and the district health department released a report saying that the prevalence rate had increased from 4.2% to 29% in the past seven months.
 
Claude Philbert, the Kabarole district Vector Control Officer, who is also the neglected tropical diseases (NTD) focal person, says that communities continue to defecate in water sources due to lack of latrines. He says that it is common with farmers who cultivate near the crater lakes. Philbert says that the water is consumed and used for washing utensils. He says that efforts to improve hygiene could help reduce the disease.
 
Philbert also says that last year's bylaw that was passed by the district council to ensure that each household has a latrine hasn't been successful. He says that in a bid to curb the spread of the disease, the vector control department has embarked on providing drugs to the infected communities. He however says that some of the residents reject the drugs, claiming they are bitter and have some side effects.
 
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Some residents however blame the district authorities for not doing much to sensitize the residents about the disease and failure to provide safe water. Gerald Musingye, a resident of Rurama village in Rutete Sub County, says that they haven’t provided appropriate information, education and communication to widen the residents’ knowledge and change the behavior of communities that are at high risk.
 
He says that some residents have heard about bilharzia, but think that it is airborne, don’t know the signs and symptoms, cure and prevention.  Musingye says that the awareness campaigns should be increased like those of malaria. 
 
Herbert Baguma, a resident of Nyabuswa village in Kichwamba Sub County, says that if the disease is to be controlled, adequate water sources should be constructed.  Baguma says that there is only one borehole in the village, forcing residents to consume dirty water from crater lakes. 
 
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Symptoms of bilharzia include muscle pains, diarrhea, fever, vomiting, coughing and urinary tract infections. If untreated, bilharzia may cause life-threatening urinary system or liver damage, bladder tumors and bowel infections.

 

About the author

Emmanuel Kajubu
Emmanuel Kajubu is proud to have been the first Ugandan journalist to write in depth pieces about the Tooro Kingdom institution. His knowledge of the inner workings of the Tooro Kingdom is what made him privy to the splits in the royal family. These splits almost challenged Tooro Omukama Oyo Nyimba Iguru's reign.

Culture, agriculture and the environment are just two areas of many of interest to Kajubu. As long as he has held a pen, Kajubu has also written about public policy, health and crime.

Kajubu is keen on impacting his society not just as a writer but also a trainer and mentor. Bundibugyo and Ntoroko districts fall under his docket. Kajubu has been a URN staff member since 2008.