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Elephantiasis victims in Kamwenge, Kitagwenda cry for help

By Wilson Asiimwe

Added 6th August 2019 12:06 PM

Nshaija appealed for the government’s intervention in the affected areas of Busiriba Sub-County in Kamwenge district and sub-counties of Ntara and Buhanda in the new district of Kitagwenda.

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Kamwenge Woman MP Dorothy Nshaija. Photo/Wilson Asiimwe

Nshaija appealed for the government’s intervention in the affected areas of Busiriba Sub-County in Kamwenge district and sub-counties of Ntara and Buhanda in the new district of Kitagwenda.

HEALTH   AGRICULTURE 

KAMPALA - Residents of Kamwenge and Kitagwenda districts who have been infected with lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis disease are calling for help as they struggle to treat themselves.

Residents from the three sub-counties of Bwizi, Nkoma, and Kuhunge in Kamwenge and Kicheche in Kitagwenda say most of the health centres in the district don’t have drugs to treat them.

Sam Katarikawe, a resident of Bwizi trading centre in Bwizi sub-county says he got infected last year but he has not yet got any treatment.

“I have been experiencing a lot of pain since last year when I got infected with the disease but even up to now I have not yet got any medication,” Katarikawe said.

Kamwenge Woman MP Dorothy Nshaija said on Friday last week while meeting the state minister for health Joyce Moriko that she had raised a matter on the floor of parliament.

She said that elephantiasis has affected the area since 2007 and that many people had died from the disease.

She said despite the matter being brought to the attention of the Ministry of Health, nothing has been done. Nshaija said 12 people are reported to have died in the past few weeks.

Nshaija appealed for the government’s intervention in the affected areas of Busiriba Sub-County in Kamwenge district and sub-counties of Ntara and Buhanda in the new district of Kitagwenda.

“The people are suffering and they are not getting treatment, so I’m appealing to the Ministry of Health to ensure that health centres are equipped with drugs to treat the victims,” she said.

Dr. Moriku the state minister for health said she had directed the health department at Kamwenge to start sensitizing the people on how to avoid the disease.

Several farmers in the affected areas have abandoned their gardens due to the disease. Contrary to reports that elephantiasis was being caused by mosquitoes and worms, a 2015 study by the Ministry of Health indicated that volcanic minerals in soils were causing elephantiasis in Kamwenge.

The study described the disease as a result of chronic exposure of skin to irritant minerals in volcanic soils causing itching and pain. 

The Health Ministry then reported that 52 cases of people with elephantiasis had been identified and that these had the disease since 1980 since it takes longer for someone to realise it due to lack of awareness and its risk increases with older age.

The report also noted that women were five times more affected than men since they move barefooted and spend more time in the farms touching the volcanic soils with minerals that cause this disease.

Dr. Chris Baryomunsi the Minister of State for Lands, Housing and Urban Development who is a medical expert says in Kamwenge the disease is as a result of chronic exposure of skin irritant minerals in soils causing itching and pain.

“People in Kamwenge should avoid going to gardens barefooted and they should be advised to use gloves while in gardens because the disease is caused by the soils,” Baryomunsii says.

He also says that a big number of farmers affected by elephantiasis were not wearing gumboots when tilling their land yet the disease is associated with direct contact with the soils.  

He says volcanic soil containing sharp mineral crystals that can penetrate the feet and become embedded under the skin causing fierce itching.  

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