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Saturday, 07 April 2018 07:34

Ministry of Health to re-assess river blindness disease in Karonga

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Executive Director for Malawi Union for Blind, Ezekiel Kumwenda - File Photo Executive Director for Malawi Union for Blind, Ezekiel Kumwenda - File Photo

Karonga, 4 April 2018: Ministry of Health and Population says it will soon conduct a re-assessment survey on the prevalence of River blindness (Onchocerciasis) in Karonga District amid fears of spill-over of the disease from Tanzania.

Program Manager for Onchocerciasis Control at the Ministry, Laston Sitima, said on Tuesday the ministry will assess if Karonga has cases of River blindness after the disease was recently registered in Tanzania.

“We would like to conduct a survey to check on the prevalence of River blindness in the district. Tanzania had the disease and it is feared that there might be spill-over to Malawi due to cross-border relations and activities,” said Sitima.

Sitima said the ministry has so far embarked on community sensitization on the disease before it commences testing people of the same in targeted communities.

“We are conducting awareness meetings to ensure that communities are well informed of the up-coming survey and to clear out misconceptions about the survey which some people may have,” he said.

Karonga District Health Officer, Dr Phinius Mfune, commended the ministry for the survey, saying results of the exercise will be used for planning in the event that there are cases of River blindness in the district.

River blindness is a vector borne disease caused by black flies, locally known as Zipwiti and Chinyiriri.
The disease leads to total blindness and an infected person’s skin turns like that of a lizard and leopard as a result of scratching if it remains untreated for a long period of time.

The survey will be conducted in 34 villages, targeting learners aged between 10 to 14 years in 30 primary schools. It will also target persons from five years above in the villages.

The last survey was conducted in 1997 and eight districts, including Karonga were put under mass drug administration against River blindness.

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