—health team to be deployed to educate residents
At least one person has died and a few scores are reportedly suffering from symptoms consistent with gastroenteritis. This is according to information filtered to the Ministry of Public Health to the Government Information Agency (GINA), which suggests that at least 60 individuals have sought care at the Baramita Health Centre manifesting symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea.
It was in fact mounting cases of vomiting and diarrhoea that caused the Ministry to commence a close monitoring process of the indigenous locale.
The Region One area had an outbreak of gastro-enteritis infection in the past resulting in the deaths of a few children.
Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, on Thursday evening recalled, “Some years ago, right in Parliament here, Mr. (David) 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 gastro-enteritis. 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 differently. 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 3,000 and 20 satellite villages, has one Health Center, which is manned by a Community Health Worker, a Medic and a Doctor.
But, according to Minister Norton, the situation is under control. He however noted that the issue is of great concern to the Ministry, and therefore 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.
But there are some challenges in accessing some of the satellite villages, Minister Norton has admitted since these areas are only accessible by All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs).
Gastro-enteritis 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.
“We do have it under control, we have enough medication there,” said Minister Norton. He disclosed that another challenge in addressing the outbreak has been found to be 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,” Minister Norton explained.
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.
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