Three districts of Bunyoro Sub Region in western Uganda that is Masindi, Hoima and Kiryandongo are being faced by likelihood of being attacked by meningitis outbreak during dry spell that began in November 2016 and is expected to end in February 2017.
This was disclosed by the district health officer (DHO) for Masindi district, Dr. John Turyagaruka during exclusive interviews with Red Pepper on Tuesday at his office. He said that, the three districts fall under Africa meningitis belt that normally experiences meningitis out break after every ten years.
“We should have conducted immunization against meningitis for all people from 30 years and bellow in November last year but the exercise never took place because of logistical reasons since the ministry of health had to look for funding. 39 districts are involved in Uganda and most of them are along River Nile”, the DHO disclosed.
Turyagaruka said that, Masindi district will carry out immunization exercise against meningitis in the district from 19th to 23rd of January 2017 targeting all people aged 29 and bellow adding that: “people aged 30 and above will be left out because they are immune against the disease much as they can be attacked. Uganda’s population is youthful and when we cover people aged 29 years and bellow, we would have covered 80% of the population”.
The DHO disclosed that, Masindi district has received shs88 million meant for immunization against meningitis and very soon, trainings at district and sub county levels and mobilization of local people will begin adding that, the district has enough vaccine that will soon be delivered by National Medical Stores (NMS).
“We have never had mass immunization of meningitis but in 2007, we had an epidemic. We have also not had cases of meningitis but some cases were reported in Nakasongola which is one of the districts that neighbor Masindi. If Nakasongola has many cases of meningitis, because of cattle corridor, the disease can spill over to Masindi”, Turyagaruka explained.
The district health boss narrated that, meningitis is a bacterial infection caused by an organism called Neisseria meningitides A which is highly communicable and travel by air adding that, it is treatable but very fatal since it attacks meninges in the brain which is a central processing unit for a human being. Meninges are membranes that cover the brain.
On prevention of the epidemic, Dr. Turyagumanwe says people should be aware and watch out for whoever has signs of acute headache and fever with stiff neck and take such patients for treatment at health facilities but not witch doctors and pastors for traditional herbs and prayers respectively because they do not workout.
“Last week we had a coordination meeting at the office of RDC as part of the activities for immunization against meningitis. Immunization will be done at static immunization posts and there will be outreaches in places where immunization for other diseases is done”, he added. He revealed that, Village Health Team (VHT) members together with members of LC committees will be used to mobilize target people in the communities to turn up in big numbers to be immunized.