Cholera outbreak hits Bududa after landslides

BUDUDA, Uganda: July 1 (Xinhua) – An outbreak of cholera has hit Bunakasala parish in Bulucheke Sub County, Bududa district, in eastern Uganda, churning out double tragedy to the area that was early last week struck by a landslide that buried 18 people and left scores homeless.

Betty Mukyala, the Bududa acting district health officer told Xinhua in an interview on Sunday that three cholera patients from Bunakasala parish, were admitted to Bushika health center for treatment. She attributed the outbreak to the inadequacy of safe water points in the parish located along the steep slopes of Mt. Elgon.

“Bunakasala parish had one spring well serving multitudes of people in the area. This spring well, however, was buried when landslides struck the area on June 25. As such, many residents are left with no choice but to fetch surface water from contaminated streams that crisscross the parish for consumption and domestic use,” Mukyala said.

Bududa district, like the neighboring Mbale and Palisa, has been grappling with cholera epidemic since February in the sub counties of Bushika, Bubita, Nakasi, Bukibola, Bumayoka, Bukigai, Bulucheke and Nalwasa. The disease has killed eight people with a cumulative figure of 197 cases.

The district has gazzetted Bushika health center as the cholera isolation treatment center. Whereas safe water coverage in the district is at 62 percent, the figure is a dismal 40 percent in Bulucheke Sub County, according to Mukyala.

With the poor pit latrine coverage in Bulucheke, estimated at about 41 percent, coupled with the continuous rains pounding the area, health workers dread this could escalate the disease prevalence in Bulucheke Sub County.

“We started battling cholera in Bududa even before the rains started hoping that we stamp out the disease before the rains start. But this has proved impossible. Now that the landslide struck Bulucheke amidst the rainy season, we fear this could increase the cases of cholera and malaria in the area.

Our plan is to establish a mobile clinic within the area to curtail the impact of the disease and other preventable diseases,” Mukyala said.

Recent national statistics released by the ministry of health put the death toll from cholera cases at 73. The number of people affected has increased to 3,111 from 2,200 in March in 13 districts of northern, eastern and western Uganda. Stephen Womukota, the eastern regional disaster management officer for the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS), said they had sunk five pit latrines in Bunakasala parish to step up sanitation and check the spread of the disease.

He added that URCS had also distributed water purification tablets among residents in the parish. (Xinhua)

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