Health News


Bats Invade Amolatar Health Centre


Bats have invaded Alyec-meda Health Centre II, Agwingiri sub county in Amoltar district causing anxiety among health workers and patients.

Although the bats have colonised all the health centre departments, the outpatient and the staff quarters are the worst affected.

A stench from the mammals' waste hang in the air at the health facility when a PRIME RADIO reporter visited the area over the weekend.

There are black marks on the health centre's white ceiling as a result of the bats.The noise from the bats inside the ceiling board was quit irritating to some patients who had visited the facility for medical attention.

Rose Okwongo, an expectant mother who had come for antenatal services said many of her colleagues have abandoned the health centre because of the smell and noise caused by the bats.

Okwongo says every time she visits and takes long at the health centre she vomits because of the smell.

Patrick Owani, another patient found at the hospital says most people in the neighbourhood prefer to seek medical attention from Amai hospital, more than 70 kilometres away for fear of the health implications that may be caused by the bats.

James Okwir, the in-charge of Alyec-meda health Centre II, says that the mammals invaded the health centre more than five years ago and attempts to get rid of them have been in vain.

He cited an example recently when the UPDF medical brigade team sprayed the house during their Tarehe Sita activities. The bats disappeared for about a week, only to return in big numbers.

Okwir said the problem is beyond the health centre's management now.

Established in 2007, Alyec-meda health centre II is the only health facility in Agwingiri sub county.

Okwir says the invasion by the bats has affected daily enrolment at the hospital. He said previously they would register more than 200 patients daily but that it has reduced to about 80 patients.

"The facility is in a crisis now; both patients and nurses are reluctant to come to the clinic due to the uncomfortable condition here," he says.

He said the Alyec-meda health centre II is very important to the farmers and fishermen in the area. He explained that the health centre serves several remote villages around the catchment area with a total population of about 8,300.

On top of the inconveniences, Okwir explained that the bats bats can be a health hazard. He said that they can cause plague and allergy to people. He said that a bat bite can cause rabies, a disease commonly associated with dog bites.

Research has also suggested that bats might be the source of several hemorrhagic fevers, which affect multiple organ systems in the body and often lead to life-threatening diseases. One of these diseases is Marburg hemorrhagic fever, which is found exclusively in Africa.

A 2014 research by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that past outbreaks have shown that Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever kills up to 90% of those infected. While the natural host had for years been unknown, new research suggests that fruit bats are a natural source of this virus, and the virus has been isolated repetitively from fruit bats in Uganda.


River Blindness Eliminated in Kabarole



The Ministry of Health has declared the total elimination of River Blindness in Kabarole district. The vector borne disease was common in the Kijura town council, Kabende and Hakibale sub counties, which fall under the World Health Organization-WHO's blindness transmission zones.

Statistics from the district vector control department indicate that out of 100 people in each of the sub counties, 80 were found to be suffering from river blindness.

The disease, caused by a worm which breeds in fast flowing water, causes skin rashes, intense itching, skin de-pigmentation and severe blindness. It was first reported in Kabarole district in 1991 and since then communities in the affected areas have been undergoing mass treatment. It is also endemic in parts of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and Latin America.

Richard Okwi, from the Vector Control Department in the Ministry of Health says that mass drug administration, technical mobilization and provision of ivermectin drugs to lower health centers to control the spread of the disease contributed to the successful elimination of the disease.

Okwi however says that medical workers are supposed to remain alert for any outbreak of the disease in the sub counties.

Dr Richard Mugahi, the Kabarole district Health Officer says that prior to the elimination of the disease, a three-year monitoring period was conducted in the endemic areas which involved testing flies and blood samples for evidence of River Blindness in the community.

Mugahi says tests later revealed that the areas were free from River Blindness.

Carter Centre, a non-government organisation working to improve life in over 80 countries says majority of river blindness occurs in Africa, where more than 120 million people are at risk and hundreds of thousands have been blinded by the condition.

The Carter Centre has worked with ministries of health to eliminate river blindness in all 10 countries in Africa and Latin America in the areas where the Center fights the neglected disease.



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