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Bats Invade Amolatar Health Centre

Rose Okwongo, an expectant mother who had come for antenatal services said many of her colleagues have abandoned the health centre because of the smell and noise caused by the bats. Okwongo says every time she visits and takes long at the health centre she vomits because of the smell.
Bats colonise one of the trees near Alyec-meda Health Centre II in Amolatar District.

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Bats have invaded Alyec-meda Health Centre II, Agwingiri sub county in Amoltar district causing anxiety among health workers and patients.

Although the bats have colonised all the health centre departments, the outpatient and the staff quarters are the worst affected.

A stench from the mammals' waste hang in the air at the health facility when a URN reporter visited the area over the weekend.

There are black marks on the health centre's white ceiling as a result of the bats.The noise from the bats inside the ceiling board was quit irritating to some patients who had visited the facility for medical attention.

Rose Okwongo, an expectant mother who had come for antenatal services said many of her colleagues have abandoned the health centre because of the smell and noise caused by the bats.

Okwongo says every time she visits and takes long at the health centre she vomits because of the smell.

Patrick Owani, another patient found at the hospital says most people in the neighbourhood prefer to seek medical attention from Amai hospital, more than 70 kilometres away for fear of the health implications that may be caused by the bats.

James Okwir, the in-charge of Alyec-meda health Centre II, says that the mammals invaded the health centre more than five years ago and attempts to get rid of them have been in vain.

He cited an example recently when the UPDF medical brigade team sprayed the house during their Tarehe Sita activities. The bats disappeared for about a week, only to return in big numbers.

Okwir said the problem is beyond the health centre's management now.

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Established in 2007, Alyec-meda health centre II is the only health facility in Agwingiri sub county.

Okwir says the invasion by the bats has affected daily enrolment at the hospital. He said previously they would register more than 200 patients daily but that it has reduced to about 80 patients.

“The facility is in a crisis now; both patients and nurses are reluctant to come to the clinic due to the uncomfortable condition here,” he says.

He said the Alyec-meda health centre II is very important to the farmers and fishermen in the area. He explained that the health centre serves several remote villages around the catchment area with a total population of about 8,300.

On top of the inconveniences, Okwir explained that the bats bats can be a health hazard. He said that they can cause plague and allergy to people. He said that a bat bite can cause rabies, a disease commonly associated with dog bites.

A 2014 research by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has suggested that bats might be the source of several hemorrhagic fevers, which affect multiple organ systems in the body and often lead to life-threatening diseases. One of these diseases is Marburg hemorrhagic fever, which is found exclusively in Africa.

CDC says that fruit bats are a natural source of Marburg, and the virus has been isolated repetitively in Uganda.

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