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Belief in witchcraft cited as hurdle in war against Kala-azar in Tharaka

 Tseikuru Sub County Hospital has been busy in the last few days treating Kala-azar outbreak cases from the neighbouring Tharaka Nithi County.

Marimanti Level Four Hospital. 33 cases of Kala-azar have been reported in Tharaka Nithi County.  Five people succumbed to the disease. Photo/COURTESY

By Wednesday November 3, six patients were treated and discharged from the facility. Five more were admitted for treatment by the health workers.

Five residents from Tharaka North sub county in Tharaka Nithi County succumbed to Kala-azar. The county Health CEC Dr Gichuyia Nthuraku said the number of those affected by the disease could be higher than cited given residents associate it with witchcraft.

“The number could be higher because some residents who associate it with witchcraft are not willing to come out.”, he told Daily Nation.

It is estimated that 33 people have been diagnosed with the infectious disease in Tharaka Nithi County in the last few months.

A third of those cases were confirmed in Kathangacini area while Kamaguna, Twanthanju and Gatunga villages had reported cases.

Due to lack of hospitals in Tharaka region, patients are forced to travel to neighbouring counties for treatment.

Tharaka Nithi County government will train healthcare workers on the disease from next week and set up a treatment hub at Marimanti Hospital.

The Health CEC urged residents to destroy vector breeding grounds near their homesteads. He also urged parents to keep children off anthills where the vectors reside.

Patients of Kala-azar suffer from fever, body weakness, enlargement of spleen and weight loss.

95 per cent of Kala-azar patients die if not treated.


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