Drug Compliance Reduces Bilharzia Cases in Mukono

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In short
Dr. Tumushabe notes that more than 19,000 pupils and 32,000 adults were treated in 2014 alone.

Bilharzia cases have reduced among school going children in Mukono due drug compliance, the District Health Officer Dr. Ely Tumushabe has revealed.  



 
He says 70 percent of the eligible children have been treated with the Prazquantel tablets-PZQ under the Mass Drug Administration.
 

 
//Cue in: Before RTI…//

Cue out…30%.//
 
 
Dr. Tumushabe notes that more than 19,000 pupils and 32,000 adults were treated in 2014 alone. He mentions
Katosi Church of Uganda Primary School and Mukono Boarding schools as some of the schools that have registered significant progress.
 
 
 
The Mass Drug Administration targets at least 53,000 in Koome, Mpatta and Mpunge sub counties by the end of next year. Dr. Tumushabe blames the poor performance of the program in some areas to the high dropout rate of Village Health Team members due to poor motivation, side effects of Prazquantel tablets (PZQ) and failure to provide meals to children and adults before taking the drugs.


 


He adds that parents have watered down the district's efforts to treat the disease by keeping their children home during times of Mass Drug Administration. Dr. Thomson Lakwo, a senior entomologist in the Health Vector Control Division Ministry of Health there has been a tremendous reduction of bilharzia nationally from 95% in 2003 to less than 50% in 2014.

 
 
 
He says the ministry advises parents to first feed their children to minimise the side effects of the drug.
 


//Cue in: We have been…//
Cue out…the districts.//



According to Reverend Yosamu Kintu, the head teacher Katosi primary school there is need for government to provide meals during drug administration days to encourage parents to send their children for treatment.



//Cue in: We only provide…//
Cue out…of porridge.//



Bilharzia is a disease caused by parasitic worms of the Schistosoma type and it infects the urinary tract or the intestines.  In Uganda, the disease is common in the regions that are surrounded by water bodies such as Kabarole, Kibaale, Elgon and some parts of Acholi and Yumbe district.
 



It presents with itself with abdominal pain, diarrhea, cough, fatigue and enlargement of the liver and spleen. Dr. Lakwo advises people to avoid water bodies infested with water snails, boil drinking water and go for free treatment in hospitals if infected.
 




The bilharzia larvae are released in water by fresh water snails. As people enter water, the larvae penetrate their skin and move through the body to the urinary and intestinal tracts, where they develop to maturity. 

The cycle is complete when infected people urinate or defecate the bilharzia eggs back into fresh water.

 

About the author

Beatrice Nyangoma
Beatrice Nyangoma values her independence as a journalist. This was one of her major considerations before she became a URN staffer in 2015.

Nyangoma says, "I like URN because it gives me room to decide what stories I want to work on. That is so important to me."

The URN Jinja bureau chief since July 2016, Nyangoma considers health matters a beat close to her heart. One of the highlights of her career so far were her exclusive interviews unveiling the rot in Mulago hospital in early 2016.

Nyangoma started out writing for the Red Pepper newspaper in 2011 in her final year of university. She was majorly a health reporter. In 2012, Nyangoma moved to Top Television as a health, business reporter and weekend news editor. She was also the assistant editorial manager of Kabarole Research and Resource Centre FM (KRC FM).