Schools Battle Dysentery as Pupils Ignore Hand Washing

1156 Views Fort Portal, Uganda

In short
A report from the district health department shows that although hand washing is one single intervention that is cost effective in disease prevention; it has not been prioritized, leading to an increase in the disease burden.

The much emphasized hand washing practice is being ignored in primary schools across Kabarole district, leading to an outbreak of dysentery.

A report from the district health department shows that although hand washing is one single intervention that is cost effective in disease prevention; it has not been prioritized, leading to an increase in the disease burden.

In some of the schools visited by Uganda Radio Network, hand washing facilities which include tippy taps and soap, are placed at latrine points, but they are never utilized by the pupils.

Beatrice Baguma, the head teacher of Kinyantale Primary School, says that the pupils know the importance of washing hands with soap after visiting the toilet, but many take it for granted.
 
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Richard Malinga, a teacher at Ngezi Primary School says that although pupils have been taught to protect themselves from diseases by washing hands regularly, the practice is widely ignored, registering a re-occurrence of dysentery, a disease primarily spread by poor hygiene practices.

Malinga says that last month, more than 50 pupils suffered from dysentery.
 
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Statistics from the Ministry of Health show that 190,000 Ugandan children die every year due to diarrhea alone as a result of eating food and other items with contaminated hands.

According to the World Health Organization- WHO, the simple act of hand-washing with soap and water at critical times can reduce the occurrence of diarrhea and other water-borne diseases by half as well as reduce the risk of lower respiratory tract infections like pneumonia by up to 23 percent.

Kabarole District Senior Health Educator Catherine Kemigabo says that the health department has started creating messages that are aimed at changing pupil's behavior and attitudes towards prioritizing hand washing.

She says the campaign will target mainly teachers and mothers, since they are key in ensuring behavior change in families and schools.
 

 

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.