The Ministry of Public Health is closely monitoring the indigenous community of Baramita in Region One, after several cases of vomiting and diarrhoea were detected in the area.
The gastroenteritis like symptoms have landed 60 persons at the Baramita Health center since these were detected late last month. One person has since died from the illness.
Minister of Public Health Dr George Norton told the Government Information Agency of this development last evening.
“Some years ago, right in Parliament here, Mr. Granger moved a motion for an investigation on the Commission of Inquiry into deaths in the North West district particularly the Port Kaituma area, of children dying of gastroenteritis. For some reason or the other, there has been a closing off of the media in terms of providing the public with information about that situation. We want to do it different. We want to be the first to let the media know that we are on top of the situation that has existed, not in Port Kaituma now, but in the village of Baramita,” Minister Norton said
Baramita, which has a population of about 3000 and 20 satellite villages, has one Health Center, which is manned by a Community Health worker, a medic and a doctor.
According to Minister Norton, the situation is under control. However, he said the issue is of great concern to the Ministry, and a team of officials will be deployed to the area, to educate the residents about the illness and measures they can take to avoid it.
Gastroenteritis is an infection of the digestive system. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites found in water, food and animals. It causes a combination of diarrhoea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, cramping, nausea, and headache. Dehydration may occur as a result.
Minister Norton said there are some challenges in terms of getting into some of the satellite villages. These areas are only accessible by All Terrain vehicles.
“We do have it under control, we have enough medication there…The other situation is we find that the population is not cooperating. They don’t want to use the bleach in the water or the tablets that we’re using in the water because they said it tastes bad. Secondly, they’re not carrying through with the medications we’re giving them to use and they are not all attending the clinics, even though the clinics are there, available for them. So we’re running into some difficulties there. But the situation has improved from what it was from the beginning,” GINA quoted Minister Norton as saying.
The occurrence of gastro-enteritis is seasonal, with the highest incidence occurring during December to March.
In 2013, there was an outbreak in the North West District area, where a total of 529 residents from Port Kaituma and surrounding communities were infected, most of whom were children. There were three reported deaths. Prior to that, there was an outbreak in 2009 and six residents died.