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Over 86% Treated for Bilharzia in Lira District

Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero, the Minister of Health who also doubles as the Lira City Woman MP, said that although people think such a disease is no longer common and therefore place less emphasis on it, bilharzia is one of the tropical diseases, which still affects so many people across the country.
Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng administering the bilharzia drugs to children during the launch in February

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At least 86.5% of the people with Bilharzia in Lira district have received treatment. The district registered 26% prevalence in Agali, Aromo, Agweng, Bar, and Ogur sub-counties, higher than the 10 percent threshold set by the World Health Organization.

Bilharzia also known as schistosomiasis is a neglected water-based, vector-borne disease transmitted indirectly through freshwater snails. The high number of cases in Lira district compelled the Ministry of Health to embark on a mass drug administration campaign for persons from 5 years and above in the affected sub-counties starting on February 25, 2022.   

By March, 205,316 people had received treatment against a target population of 237,121. Rashid Mwesigye Etwop, an Entomologist and the Vector Control Officer, who blamed the increase in the number of cases on poor diagnosis, says the Mass drug administration program was a success. 

He explained that some people within the eligible age group did not receive the medication for various reasons, the common one being pregnancy in women.

Eng byte:

//Cue in: “schistosomiasis is also…

Cue out: … all the community,”//

Etwop advised the communities in the affected sub-counties to not only embrace drug administration programs but also take precautions when fetching water in order to eradicate the disease once and for all.

Eng byte:

//Cue in: “We need to…  

Cue out: … you get infected,”//

Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero, the Minister of Health who also doubles as the Lira City Woman MP, said that although people think such a disease is no longer common and therefore place less emphasis on it, bilharzia is one of the tropical diseases, which still affects so many people across the country.

“While progress has been made, it is not substantial and our people continue to suffer from the complications of bilharzia. That is why we re-launched our efforts in the fight against bilharzia,” said the minister. Prudence Beinamaryo, the programs manager of Bilharzia and worm control in the Ministry of Health, says that both Lira City and District have many cases of Neglected Tropical diseases including bilharzia.  

Eng byte:

//Cue in: “We have many…

Cue out: … over 7 million people.”//

But Lawrence Egole, the Lira Resident City Commissioner blamed the community for neglecting their health and leaving everything in the hands of the government. 

“We are not doing what is expected of us because we are responsible for some reasonable percentage of our health but we neglect a lot and give room for some of these diseases to invade our territory even what we can do by ourselves. We expect the government to come in,” he said. 

Currently, 91 districts in Uganda are endemic to Bilharzia with some areas having persistent infection while others have realized substantial improvement.

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