No cholera in Kasese for the first time in 13 years
“This year we have so far experienced two sets of floods, but no water borne disease outbreaks have been registered”
In Kasese, a cholera outbreak is a near mainstay. At least it used to be. Every year for the past 13 years, Kasese District in western Uganda experienced cholera outbreaks in a somewhat cyclical process that entailed flooding, displacement to camps and then cholera would follow. This year, the floods came, thousands were displaced from their homes, but no single case of cholera.
“This year we have so far experienced two sets of floods, but no water borne disease outbreaks have been registered,”
What is being done differently?
“With support from UNICEF and other partners, the district has improved its systems and integrated delivery of services to curb disease outbreaks resulting from consumption of unsafe water and poor hygiene,” Bagoma adds, “Cholera is one of those diseases.”
Cholera is a highly infectious disease that causes severe watery diarrhoea, which can lead to dehydration and even death if untreated. Since 2007, Kasese had every year suffered a cholera outbreak which appears to have been stemmed in its tracks in 2020.
Bagoma attributes this to infection prevention and control (IPC) supplies; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) supplies including hand washing facilities; well-constructed latrines and well-trained health workers in IPC. As key partner in this system strengthening, UNICEF had by June provided all the 122 district centers with hand washing facilities, and 38 with IPC and WASH supplies. 70 per cent of the district schools also have received hand washing facilities.
The District Health Officer Dr. Yusuf Baseka notes that, “This has helped us effectively combat the floods without registering any cases of cholera or typhoid since the year started. We engaged communities in identifying problems and localizing solutions that work.”
This, according to Dr. Bateka, has enabled the district to respond to other diseases like Ebola and the corona virus disease (COVID-19) through effective preparedness and containment. Key emphasis has been placed on maintenance of proper sanitation and hygiene particularly within the camps hosting people displaced by floods. The number of diarrhea cases in the district has also greatly reduced because the population has access to clean and safe water following installation of water systems, construction of boreholes and provision of aqua water treatment tablets.
In Karusandara Sub County, host to multiple camps of people displaced by floods, the Local Council III Chairman Ezra Turyahebwa confirmed that the sub county has not experienced any water borne disease outbreaks even though it hosts thousands of people displaced by floods. On 1 July, UNICEF handed over a motorized water system constructed at Karusandara Health Centre III to serve the centre and the displaced persons camps which are heavily water stressed. Kasese District in May and June this year experienced heavy floods that killed over 10 people, displaced over 450 households, destroyed households, schools and WASH infrastructure. The water system will supply clean and safe water, as one of the key steps in averting any WASH-related disease outbreaks, particularly cholera and COVID-19 in 2020 and even beyond.