Uganda, Kasese: unwashed hands cause cholera

Persistent outbreaks of cholera in Kasese District have been blamed on poor hand-washing practices and bad eating habits. This was noted at a one-day advocacy meeting for district councillors on water and sanitation held in Kasese Catholic Social Hall on Thursday [01 October 2009].

Presenting a latrine coverage and hand-washing situational analysis in Kasese, the district health inspector also the disease surveillance officer, Ericana Bwambale, said washing hands among the people of Kasese ranged from 17% to 34%. He named the sub-counties where people rarely wash their hands as Muhokya with 17%, followed by Kitswamba at 18% and Rukoki at 20%.

He said Kyabarungira Sub-county has the lowest latrine coverage at 57%, followed by Rukoki at 60% and Kisinga at 65%. Kyondo Sub-county had the highest latrine coverage of 88%, followed by Maliba Sub-county at 87%.

He said the majority of the people in Kasese eat whatever food they come across without considering its cleanliness.

Since March [2009], 500 cases of cholera have been reported in Kasese with about 10 deaths. The Busongora County health inspector, Steven Bagonza, said cholera cases have been reported in all the four constituencies in the district.

The district councillors on the technical and social services committee blamed the sub-county health assistants for the deteriorating health conditions in the district. They said health workers were not sensitising the community on the need to improve sanitation and hygiene in their homes.

The head of the district technical and social services committee, Mustafa Kikusa, said all the sub-county health assistants should be summoned before the district committee and explain why they are failing to do their work. He noted that the Government was doing all it could to improve people’s standards of living but was being frustrated by civil servants who are failing to deliver as expected.

During the meeting, it was reported that people of Kasese were feeding on animal offals and fish skeletons from Kampala that have some times compromised the health of the people.

The furious councillors promised to move a motion to ban the sale of offals and skeleton fish in the district, saying they were unhygienic and partly responsible for the deteriorating health conditions.

However, some councillors on the committee, especially women said that they would block the motion if brought to council, adding that majority of the people in the district were surviving on offals and fish skeletons because they were cheap and some people cannot afford meat.

Source: Bernard Masereka, New Vision /, 03 Oct 2009

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