River Blindness Eliminated in Kabarole

2698 Views Fort Portal, Uganda

In short
The disease, caused by a worm which breeds in fast flowing water, causes skin rashes, intense itching, skin de-pigmentation and severe blindness. It was first reported in Kabarole district in 1991 and since then communities in the affected areas have been undergoing mass treatment.

The Ministry of Health has declared the total elimination of River Blindness in Kabarole district. The vector borne disease was common in the Kijura town council, Kabende and Hakibale sub counties, which fall under the World Health Organization-WHO's blindness transmission zones.

Statistics from the district vector control department indicate that out of 100 people in each of the sub counties, 80 were found to be suffering from river blindness.

The disease, caused by a worm which breeds in fast flowing water, causes skin rashes, intense itching, skin de-pigmentation and severe blindness. It was first reported in Kabarole district in 1991 and since then communities in the affected areas have been undergoing mass treatment. It is also endemic in parts of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and Latin America.

Richard Okwi, from the Vector Control Department in the Ministry of Health says that mass drug administration, technical mobilization and provision of ivermectin drugs to lower health centers to control the spread of the disease contributed to the successful elimination of the disease.

Okwi however says that medical workers are supposed to remain alert for any outbreak of the disease in the sub counties.
 
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Dr Richard Mugahi, the Kabarole district Health Officer says that prior to the elimination of the disease, a three-year monitoring period was conducted in the endemic areas which involved testing flies and blood samples for evidence of River Blindness in the community.

Mugahi says tests later revealed that the areas were free from River Blindness.
 
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Carter Centre, a non-government organisation working to improve life in over 80 countries says majority of river blindness occurs in Africa, where more than 120 million people are at risk and hundreds of thousands have been blinded by the condition.

The Carter Centre has worked with ministries of health to eliminate river blindness in all 10 countries in Africa and Latin America in the areas where the Center fights the neglected disease.

 

About the author

Emmanuel Kajubu
Emmanuel Kajubu is proud to have been the first Ugandan journalist to write in depth pieces about the Tooro Kingdom institution. His knowledge of the inner workings of the Tooro Kingdom is what made him privy to the splits in the royal family. These splits almost challenged Tooro Omukama Oyo Nyimba Iguru's reign.

Culture, agriculture and the environment are just two areas of many of interest to Kajubu. As long as he has held a pen, Kajubu has also written about public policy, health and crime.

Kajubu is keen on impacting his society not just as a writer but also a trainer and mentor. Bundibugyo and Ntoroko districts fall under his docket. Kajubu has been a URN staff member since 2008.