The Ministry of Health has confirmed an outbreak of cholera in the refugee settlements situated in Hoima and Kyegegwa districts in Western Uganda.
According to the Ministry, 22 people have so far died of cholera and 535 others are suspected to have the infectious disease in Kyangwali refugee settlement in Hoima which has recently received huge numbers of Congolese refugees.
“The Ministry of Health would like to inform the general public that ther is an active Cholera outbreakin refugee settlements in Hoima and Kyegegwa districts,” a statement issued by Olaro Charles, the Director General Health Services stated.
Government says that most of the deaths occurred along the way or inthe community. In Kyaka II settlement in Kyegegwa, 23 suspected cases are being followed up.
According to the investigations conducted by the Ministry of Health, the refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) contracted the infection from their places of origin and along the way to Uganda.
Results from the Central Public Health Laboratories indicate that 5 cases have been confirmed in the two refugee settlements, four of which were in Kyaka II.
In order to contain this outbreak, Ministry of Health is establishing cholera treatment centres at the Kyangwali and Kyaka II refugee settlements.
Refugees will also be screened for the disease at the entry points for early detection of cholera cases.
Measures are lso being udertaken to closely follow up of contacts to identify sick ones in the two affected refugee settlements.
Government has already dispatched additional medical supplies from National Medical Stores to the affected refugee settlements.
Earlier this week, UNHCR reported that the influx of refugees arriving from DRC has strained the capacity to provide for their needs. The refugee agency had also said that there were registered cases of acute waterly diarrhoea, but was hesitant to declare them as cases of cholera.
Since January 1 this year, Uganda has received over 40,000 refugees from DRC mmajority of whom have been settled in Kyangwali in Hoima. The overcrowding in the settlement coupled with the inadequate sanitary facilities is likely to have facilitated the quick spread of cholera.
Cholera is a serious acute infectious disease characterized by watery diarrhoea, vomiting and kills aperson within a few hours. It can be spread through eating and drinking foods contaminated with faeces of an infected person.
Other factors responsible for its spread include; poor personal hygiene especially not washing hands after visiting the latrines, using contaminated water, poor sanitation as occurs in open defecation, eating food preparedunder unhygienic conditions, and drinking contaminated water.