Jinja district has been ranked with the highest cases of bilharzia in Busoga region. A study conducted by CHDC revealed that Jinja stands at 59% followed by Mayuge, Bugiri and Namayingo districts respectively.
By Jackie Nambogga
Jinja district has been ranked with the highest cases of bilharzia in Busoga region. A study conducted by the Child health and development centre (CHDC) Makerere university college of health sciences revealed that Jinja stands at 59% followed by Mayuge, Bugiri and Namayingo districts respectively.
This was during a half day dissemination workshop held at the Source of the Nile hotel in Jinja town last week.
It was attended by health workers, LC I village chairpersons and head teachers of primary schools located at the shores of Lake Victoria in Jinja district.
According to Dr. Jessica Jitta, the CHDC coordinatior, the five year research project that was conducted between 2010 to 2014 was sponsored by DANIDA and data was collected from many primary schools and fishing communities on lake shores and Islands of Lake Victoria.
Bilharzia which is scientifically referred to as schistosomiasis is caused by a parasitic worms schistosomes and studies suggest that it affects 200 million people worldwide.
Its infection is prevalent in tropical and sub-tropical areas especially in poor communities without safe water and adequate sanitation.
It is acquired when people get into contact with fresh water infested with the lava forms (cercariae) or contaminated with faeces.
According to Dr. Allen Nalugwa, a research scientist from CHDC, intestinal schistosomiasis in Uganda is endemic in 73 out of the 112 districts and that over 50% individuals of the population were at risk of acquiring it.
Findings indicated that the disease is common among children below six years and of the 3058 children sampled, 39.3% were infected with bilharzia.
Nalugwa said the boys were more infected than girls of the same age as they don’t fear playing and bathing in waters which in most cases is infested.
Nalugwa said the disease can result into anemia, slow growth and development, body weakness, premature death and poor performance in class.
Of the 1010 pupils sampled from the 12 schools in Jinja district, only 28.2% had reportedly taken treatment.
She stressed the need to improve on toilet coverage if the ailment is to be curbed.
Nathan Bagagiire, the Jinja district health information officer said most fish folks consider faeces as food for fish and therefore, they end up defecating in the water bodies than going to toilets.
He added that there were cultural beliefs among fishmongers by not going to toilets early in the morning as it affects their catch.
Francis Etyang, the Kisima I head teacher said most pupils don’t feed at school and they collapse after taking the drugs on empty stomach.
He suggested that the ministry of health should provide meals to children during mass treatment.
David Kakuuma, the head teacher Lake Site P/S said whenever they announce bilharzias treatment at school, pupils don’t show up for a week.
Samson Ssekiwano, the Jinja central division health inspector said the bilharzia drugs should be reduced in size as it scares children and also be sugarcoated because it is very bitter.
However, the Jinja district health officer, Dr. Nantamu Dyogo said they would make use of the findings to improve on health services in the area.
“Many think that policies emerge from national levels in Parliament yet local governments by nature are meant to make policies aimed at improving service delivery, as health departments, we shall find ways of guiding councils to make decisions on such findings,” he said.
Jinja leads with bilharzia cases in Busoga,