Defecation In Water Sources Stifles Bilharzia Treatment

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In short
The most affected areas are Kichwamba, Ruteete, Kasenda, Busoro, Rwimi, Buheesi and Kibiito sub counties, which are surrounded by water bodies such as crater lakes.

Continued defecation in water sources is hampering 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, Ruteete, Kasenda, Busoro, Rwimi, Buheesi and Kibiito sub counties, which are surrounded by water bodies such as crater lakes.
Treatment and prevention of the disease has been affected by continued contamination of the water bodies with human waste. Last month, the Bilharzia and Worm Control Programme and the district health department released a report indicating that the prevalence rate had increased from 4.2% to 29% in the past eight months.
The report also indicates that out of four people in a household, two are suffering from Bilharzia. 

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 improving hygiene could help reduce the disease.
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Philbert says that in a bid to curb the spread of the disease, the vector control department has embarked on providing drugs to the affected communities. He however says that the drugs are being rejected by the residents on grounds that they have some side effects.
Moses Akugizibwe, a member of the Village Health Teams of Rurama village in Ruteete Sub County, says that residents have been provided with the appropriate information, education and communication to widen their knowledge on the spread of the disease, but are reluctant to respond.
He adds that a bye-law passed last year in the sub county requiring each household to have a latrine has not been successful.

However Charles Mwesige, a resident of Nyabuswa village in Kichwamba Sub County blames the district for failing to provide safe water. He explains that if the disease is to be controlled, adequate water sources should be constructed.  
Mwesige adds that there is only one borehole in the village, forcing residents to consume dirty water from the crater lakes. 
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Symptoms of bilharzia include muscle pains, diarrhoea, 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.