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No peace as fatal bilharzia torments Nyando residents

Tuesday, February 27th, 2024 03:30 | By
Randsburg Community Hospital Director Alphonse Ouya addresses residents of Nyando, Kisumu, during the free medical camp. PHOTO/Kepher Otieno
Randsburg Community Hospital Director Alphonse Ouya addresses residents of Nyando, Kisumu, during the free medical camp. PHOTO/Kepher Otieno

Daktari! daktariii yooo! daktariii! “I have a problem with my nerves,” the shrill voice of Mama Purity Adhiambo called out. She wanted the medics to give her quick medical treatment.

“I have had sleepless nights for months. My body aches all night and at times, I feel restless,” Adhiambo said as Sarah Aoko, a nurse with RandBurg Community Hospital in Nyando constituency responded to her to cry.

Aoko consoled her, “Don’t cry mum, you will be alright soon,” as she diagnosed and put her on first aid.

But Adhiambo was not alone. Hundreds of women and men from Kabonyo Kanyagwal village, in Kisumu on the shores of Lake Victoria prone to floods also decried the same problem.

Some trekked more than 50 kilometres to a free medical camp organised by Randsburg Community Hospital in conjunction with Kisumu county health authorities. According to medics, the disease can affect different parts of the body, including the lungs, nervous system and brain.

 Dr Ojwang Lusi, Chief Officer of Medical Services in Kisumu said they had received many such complaints.

“This is part of the reason we agreed to second doctors to pair with Randsburg community medics to offer free medicare,” said Lusi. Dr Lusi disclosed that they are going to support more such medical camps around the lower Nyando River and Lake Victoria basin to assist the indigents, who cannot meet medical costs, to get free or subsidized treatment.

People who come into contact with contaminated water or use it during recreational, agricultural, or domestic activities can become highly infected.

“This happens when the larvae worms penetrate their skin, travel to blood vessels, and develop into adults,” Aoko explained. The release of eggs from female worms triggers symptoms in infected people, which can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, the medical expert explained.

“Chronic infections frequently result in serious damage to the liver, intestines, and bladder,” Aoko explained

Most women in Kabonyo Kanyagwal village were exposed to infested water through routine washing of clothes in the Lake and River Nyando, hence they were at high risk of infection. Randburg’s Hospital Director Alphonse Ouya, claimed most residents were affected because of the backflow of water from the Lake.

“There is a lot of back flow of water from Lake Victoria, which is relied upon by many residents for domestic activities,” Ouya explained.

While, the medics admitted that there is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis, they said early treatment can help reduce the impact of infection. If a person’s test result is positive, then they are put on medication. According to advice from Centre for Disease Control, people should avoid all contact with fresh water in areas where contamination is likely.

For instance, the medics emphasised that people should evade risks. They should also not drink raw water but boil water to reduce rate of infection.

Currently, Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o has come up with Kisumu Marwa Health solidarity insurance super cover to help the indigents.

 Nyong’o has urged residents to register for the services to access subsidized medical treatment in any local health facilities.

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