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Ministry of Health issues a bilharzia alert

by Health reporter
01 Nov 2012 at 05:29hrs | Views
THE Ministry of Health and Child Welfare is on alert for bilharzia ahead of the onset of the rainy season. Bilharzia is a human disease caused by parasitic worms called schistosomes and is one of the most commonly picked up diseases in developing countries, which is acquired by swimming in water bodies that are infested with snails, the carriers of the schistosoma pathogens.

In an interview from Harare recently, Head of Epidemiology and Disease Control in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare Dr Portia Manangazira said they were ready to deal with the disease once there were outbreaks.

"Normally when we reach this season we are usually on high alert because there are a lot of water-borne disease including bilharzia that risk being on the rise," said Dr Manangazira.

She said her ministry in September introduced, for the first time, a mass drug administration for bilharzia.

"The introduction of the mass drug administration marks the onset of an annual programme of this nature. It will carry on until the level of prevalence goes down," said Dr Manangazira.

She said following the introduction of the immunisation programme, they were hopeful to see an improvement of sanitation levels to complement their efforts in curbing the disease.

"We are happy with the efforts being made by Government, through the Ministry of Water Resources, Development and Management and several local authorities to improve sanitation levels in the country," said Dr Manangazira.

She said a lot of work with regards to combating bilharzia had been done, as they had set structures on the ground in the event there was an outbreak.

Bilharzia can be successfully treated using an oral drug Praziquantel. Though a single dose of this drug can cure the infection, it is not effective in preventing re-infection of the patient, which is highly probable in an affected area.

Turning to diarrhoeal diseases, Dr Manangazira expressed concern that typhoid was still on the increase.

"We are worried that we are still battling with typhoid since last year in October, our expectation was to have it eradicated by this time. There is also a general increase of cases of common diarrhoea, but efforts are under way to deal with it," said Dr Manangazira.

Source - TH

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