UGANDA: ingestion of contaminated food and water remains a problem

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Hope Mafaranga
28 October, 2011

A local leader in Uganda has lamented that ingestion of contaminated food or water which leads to typhoid fever has remained a big problem in his district.

Typhoid fever is caused by the Salmonella typhi bacteria, and it is most commonly transmitted through the fecal-oral route. Patients with typhoid can contaminate the water supply with their stool, where the bacteria flourish. The food supply can become contaminated by infected stool, poor sanitation, or someone who fails to wash his hands after using the toilet.

The World Health Organization (WHO) deemed typhoid fever a serious problem in endemic areas (India, Southeast Asia, Africa, Central and South America) where there are between 16 and 33 million cases each year that result in over half a million deaths.

The map showing the endemic (light geen) and the highly endemic (dark green) regions of the world

Now in Uganda, the disease has killed at least 10 in Bundibujo district according to the district chairperson there Jolly Tibemanya.

“Washing and bathing in rivers and streams must stop now. We have so far buried ten people in Kirumya sub-county who died of typhoid those results from poor hygiene,” she says.

In November last year, typhoid also killed eight people and left 17 other affected in Kasitu sub-county causing panic of re-occurrence of Ebola in the mountainous area.

The victims had symptoms of high temperatures, stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and were urinating blood.

Tibemanya says that over 4,000 households in Bundibugyo district lack pit latrine.

She however notes that government is committed to giving the people of Bundibugyo in the western region clean and safe water in order to reduce water borne diseases.

Launching the rehabilitation of Nyaruru gravity scheme and Ndugutu gravity scheme in Harugare sub-county, Tibemanya said that water coverage in the district stands at 64 percent, compared to 21 percent in the past years.

“Water coverage has improved from 21 percent in 2007 to 64 percent and our target is to make to 80 percent in the next two years,” he says.

He discloses that Sirafford Uganda Limited was given the contract of rehabilitating both Nyaruru and Ndugutu gravity flow schemes at a tune of 133 million shillings.

The chairperson urges people to stop washing dirty clothes and bathing in running water which he says poses a health threat to the people using this water.

She also says that the district is the process of passing a bylaw to punish the culprits who are found washing in the rivers and streams where people draw water from for domestic use.

Speaking during the same occasion, the district’s community development officer in charge WASH project Caesar Olega disclosed that each community where the tap will be erected will be contributing 50,000 shillings once for the maintenance of the gravity flow scheme.

Olega urges the beneficiaries to observe 100 percent hygiene as one way of remaining health.

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