At least 22 people have been confirmed dead following an outbreak of Cholera in refugee settlements in Hoima and Kyegegwa Districts, Western Uganda.
Investigations conducted by the Ministry of Health indicate that the refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) contracted the infection from their places of origin and along the way to Uganda.
According to results from the Central Public Health Laboratories, a total of five cases have been confirmed in the refugee settlements of Kyangwali in Hoima district and Kyaka II in Kyegegwa district.
Four cases have been confirmed in Hoima and one in Kyegegwa.
As of Thursday, a total of 535 suspected cases with 22 deaths had been reported from Kyangwali refugee settlement with 360 people discharged.
“Most of the deaths occurred along the way or in the community. In Kyaka II, 23 suspected cases are being followed up,” the Health Ministry said in a statement to ChimpReports on Friday night,
Cholera is a serious acute infectious disease characterized by watery diarrhoea, vomiting and kills a person 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 prepared under unhygienic conditions, and drinking contaminated water.
In order to contain this outbreak, Ministry of Health and partners have since established Cholera treatment centres at the Kyangwali and Kyaka II refugee settlements and continue to screen all refugees at entry points for early detection of Cholera cases.
Health officials also are closely following up of contacts to identify sick ones in the two affected refugee settlements as well as promoting sanitation, hygiene and use of safe water in the refugee settlements.
The Health Ministry, which has as well intensified community awareness among refugee populations, expressed hope that “the Cholera outbreak within the refugee populations will be brought to an end as soon as possible.”
This year, more than 42,000 people have crossed Lake Albert, bringing the total number of Congolese refugees in Uganda to over 251,000.