Pakwach health department launch campaign against bilharzia

Pakwach health department launch campaign against bilharzia

A child affected with schistosomiasis (bilharzia)

Pakwach, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Pakwach district health department has embarked on an exercise against bilharzia, a major neglected tropical disease in the area.

Schistosomiasis, also known as bilharzia, is an infection caused by a parasitic worm that lives in fresh water in subtropical and tropical regions.

The three-day exercise which is expected to end on Monday next week mainly targets children aged 3-19 years who are at risk of contracting the disease. Meanwhile, other targeted groups are community members frequently engaged in activities near rivers like fishermen.

Dr. Paul Ajal, the Pakwach District Health Officer explains that the mass drug administration was made possible by the donation of over 80,000 doses of drugs with support from the Ministry of Health and partners.

Ajal further noted that the drug administration exercise which will be carried out by the Village health team (VHTs) will go a long way in preventing liver complications in already infected persons.

Statistics obtained from the district health department indicate that the bilharzia prevalence rate stands at 28 percent with over 55,000 people infected with the disease.

The most affected sub-counties are those located along the Nile River such as Panyimur Town Council with a prevalence rate of 73.4 percent followed by Pakwach Sub County with 57.7 percent prevalence rate.

In a recent interview with Uganda Radio Network, Judith Kigezi, the Pakwach District Environmental Health Officer, blamed the high burden of Bilharzia on the rampant practice of open defecation especially along the fish landing sites within the district.

“All of us do open defecation in one way or the other. But the ones at the landing site are on maps. The fishing community has the notion that fecal matter provides more feed to fish” Kigezi noted.

Bilharzia also known as intestinal schistosomiasis is one of the leading causes of morbidity and disability in many fishing communities lying along large water bodies in Uganda.

Infection occurs when the parasite’s larvae penetrate a person’s skin during contact with infested water, often through fishing, swimming, bathing, and washing clothes.

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