National
2.7 million Ugandans safe from river blindness
Publish Date: Aug 07, 2014
2.7 million Ugandans safe from river blindness
Dr Sarah Opendi the state Minister for Health.
  • mail
  • img
newvision

By Taddeo Bwambale and Aisha Naiga

AT least 2.7 million Ugandans are no longer at risk of contracting river blindness in infection in Uganda, the state minister for health (primary healthcare), Dr Sarah Opendi has said.

River blindness, known scientifically as onchocerciasis, is a parasitic infection that can cause intense itching, skin discoloration, rashes, and eye disease that can lead to permanent blindness.

It is transmitted through bites of female black flies that breed in fast-flowing streams and rivers, hence the commonly known name of 'river blindness'.

At its peak, river blindness was endemic in 35 districts, with an estimated 4.2 million people at risk of infection.

A report by the Uganda onchocerciasis elimination expert advisory committee on Thursday shows that transmission the disease has been transmitted in 14 focal sites out of 17.

The 14-member advisory committee that comprises local and international health experts meets annually to review progress and advise the health ministry on efforts to eliminate river blindness.

At its meeting in Kampala on Thursday, the committee confirmed that transmission of the disease had been interrupted in Moyo district and recommended that mass treatment be halted.

The advisory team recommended that mass treatment of residents with ivermectin in the district be halted but post-treatment surveillance will be conducted in the area for at least three years.

Arua, Nebbi, Zombo, Buliisa, Hoima and Masindi are classified as areas where transmission may have been interrupted, after recording a drop in number of infected persons and black flies.

Prevalence of river blindness in Uganda has dropped from 70% in 1993 to about 5% presently.

In 2007, Uganda was the first African country to adopt the approach of eliminating the disease by combining mass treatment of patients and spraying to kill the black fly.

Dr Opendi attributed Uganda’s success to a combined approach that employs the use of village health teams, a robust surveillance network and engaging district leaders in affected sites.

She said Uganda was on course to meet its target of eliminating river blindness and other neglected tropical diseases such as trachoma, elephantiasis and bilharzia by 2020.

The ministry of health, with support from the Carter Center, has set up a molecular laboratory in Kampala to test prevalence of river blindness infection in affected districts,

Dr Edridah Tukamuhebwa, the health ministry’s focal person on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) said the new lab would help quicken analysis of specimen from river blindness patients.

Tukamuhebwa said the lab would also help in quick diagnosis of Malaria, elephantiasis and trachoma which are endemic in regions where river blindness has been prevalent.

Related stories

River blindness tamed in more districts

Uganda to end river blindness by 2020

Uganda worried about cross-border infections

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Court orders status report on terror suspect property
Grade one magistrate Simon Zirintuusa has ordered a status report on the confiscated property of one of the 10 Al shabaab-linked terror suspects arrested in September in the city suburb of Kisenyi....
Uganda’s young population soars
About 13.1 million Ugandans are aged 10-24, according to a new United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report.The report shows that Uganda’s population at 38.8 million, contradicting the national census results which put the figure at 34.9 million....
MPs pin energy ministry officials over sh13b
The ministry of energy and mineral development chief accountanting officer, Eng. Paul Mubiru has come under scrutiny when MPs raised a red flag, for failure to take action on the ministry’s workers who have not accounted for over sh13bn....
Interpol call for roadmap to tackle fake drugs
Interpol has called for a greater global response to pharmaceutical crime as it warned criminal gangs were capitalising on weaknesses in legislation and border controls.At a conference in Dublin, the global crime agency said the growth in crime involving fake or tampered-with medicines threatens the lives of millions of people and undermines health systems worldwide....
UN warns over threat of AIDS rebound
South African actress Charlize Theron threw her weight Tuesday behind an urgent new UN campaign to end AIDS as a global health threat by 2030....
Parliament wants sh1.5b to complete  Development House renovations
The Parliamentary Commission wants more sh1.5b to complete renovations on Development House to create office space for MPs....
Should workers be subjected to a 4% Health Insurance Tax??
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter