Witchcraft Claims Hamper Ebola Fight in Luweero

3830 Views Luweero, Uganda

In short
Efforts to contain the deadly Ebola virus in Luweero district have received a major blow after some local residents and health officials disagreed on the outbreak. Some of the residents attribute the deaths to witchcraft, not Ebola.

Efforts to contain the deadly Ebola virus in Luweero district have received a major blow after some local residents and health officials disagreed on the outbreak.

The ministry of Health has confirmed that four people have died and 11 others are admitted at Mulago Referral Hospital and Bombo General Military Hospital following the outbreak of the haemorrhagic fever. More than 40 people are also under monitoring at Kakute village in Nyimbwa Sub County in Luweero.

Health experts have confirmed that the latest strain is Ebola Sudan, different from the strain that killed at least 17 people in Kibaale district between June and August this year. The health ministry has advised residents to review their behaviors to reduce on spread of the disease.

In Kakute village, however, locals and family members of the deceased have defied the ministry’s precautionary measures and insisted that they are dying as result of witchcraft which should be addressed through exorcism.

By Monday afternoon when a URN Reporter visited the village, business was normal, with handshaking, public gatherings, and social interactions among others going on as usual without any fear contracting the deadly virus.

John Sseruwu, a neighbor to the deceased Muhamadi Kabugo says that he participated in carrying of the dead body, washing and burying the first suspected ebola victims in the village on October 24, 2012 but he has never developed any illness and life goes on normally.

Suleiman Jjuuko, whose daughter Halima Nakimbugwe died of ebola, says that it was witchcraft and not ebola adding that unless the issue is settled many people in the family will continue to die.

Another resident, Musisi Kitumba, says that they are surprised that the disease is only spreading within one family of Ruth Nakanwagi. Kitumba says that they suspect witchcraft claiming that before Kabugo’s death spirits accused Nakanwagi who is currently admitted at Mulago Hospital for being behind them.

Kitumba claims that Nakanwagi brought the spirits to enable her family get rich but she failed to meet their demands.

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The councilor for Sambwe parish Teddy Nakagulire says that reports by medical workers that people are dying of ebola are highly doubtable and they want the Ministry of Health and office of the President to investigate the matter.

Isaac Katumba, the Kakuute village chairperson, blamed the confusion on Ministry of Health, claiming that they have not come to the village to sensitize the local people. The ministry officials, according Katumba, stay in Luweero district headquarters and in Kampala holding frequent press conferences to update the nation without coming to the villages.

The claims couldn’t be verified by URN Reporter but the Luweero district Health Educator Luyombya Bwogi says that witchcraft allegations are dangerous because they water down efforts to contain the deadly ebola virus.

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The Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation (WHO) are struggling to contain the disease and they have set up an isolation centre at Nyimbwa Health Centre IV to handle patients from the village.

Four people that have died of the disease include Muhamadi Kabugo, Gladys Namakula, Rehema Najjemba and Halima Nakimbugwe.


About the author

Brian Luwaga
Since Brian Luwaga joined Uganda Radio Network in 2011, he is still amazed how, "URN is a place that gives journalists a chance to enhance their skills . It gives a journalist an opportunity to adopt and master various aspects of journalism that include radio broadcast, social media, photography and television production."

A practicing journalist since 2009, first with Star FM, Luwaga has always been keen to write about the concerns of the "common person." Based for much of his career in Luweero, Luwaga takes it as a compliment if politicians complain that his reporting is too harsh.

In his journalism, Luwaga likes to merge the past with the present. He believes you cannot understand what is happening now, if you do not have a grounding in the past. Brian Luwaga is the Luweero URN bureau chief. Nakasongola, Nakaseke, Mityana, Mubende and Wakiso districts fall under his docket.

Luwaga is interested in humanitarian work and is a keen Rotarian.