So an isolation centre was established at Kakuuto Health Centre IV to receive, treat patients, and to investigate a strange disease. However, the isolation centre has remained vacant for nearly two months due to lack of patients.
Why?- Some residents believe it is a spiritual ailment that requires the intervention of traditional healers to cleanse the village of the bad spell.
This isolation unit was established following unexplained deaths of 10 people in Kijonjo parish in Kasasa sub-county and several others were left in critical condition in Kijonjo A, Kijonjo B, Nakatooke A and Nakatooke B villages over the past six months.
Dr. Alloysious Musoke, the In-charge Kakuuto HCIV, asked the the Ministry of Health which sent two teams to work jointly with the Masaka regional referral hospital and Kakuuto health team to identify the actual cause of the mysterious illness. As investigations happened the isolation centre was set up.
But there have been no patients admissions for treatment in spite of the persistent sensitization in the affected communities. Apparently, the patients are being handled by traditional healers since the majority attributed the sickness to witchcraft.
Such cases have manifested in scenarios like when the HIV/AIDS pandemic hit the world some people first believed it was witchcraft until science identified the virus.
Musoke appealed to Kijonjo residents to trust the healthcare professionals to treat them and avoid misconceptions.
A patient with this disease develops symptoms such as nausea, severe fever, vomiting, chest pain, a sore throat, abdominal pain, swelling on the arms, and diarrhoea and would die within three or five days.
Concerning the ongoing investigations, the two teams from the Ministry of Health, WHO, Masaka regional referral hospital and Kakuuto health teams, have not been able to identify the cause of the bizarre illness and the deaths. Apparently, over ten people in the affected communities reported having recovered after visiting traditional healers while others claim they healed without any medical interventions.
Denis Muyunga, the Kasaka LCIII Chairman said they have not registered any deaths this month but there are several people who have fallen sick with similar symptoms. Ronald Ssempijja, the Kijonjo A Chairperson, is one of the survivors of the strange illness who are still battling it through traditional or spiritual means. Muyunga says they rejected medical treatment and chose to treat the disease traditionally saying they know the person responsible for their suffering.
Dr. Edward Muwanga, the District Health Officer (DHO), says he dispatched a team of health professionals to continue sensitizing the affected communities but none of the patients has visited a health centre since the isolation was instituted.
He says that some residents believe it is a spiritual ailment that requires the intervention of traditional healers to cleanse the village of the bad spell.
According to the February 2022 situation report on the undiagnosed illness in Kyotera district, the Ministry of Health deployed a multi-disciplinary team comprising epidemiologists, a physician, a communication specialist and microbiologists to further investigate and establish the magnitude of the problem of the unknown illness.
The team was to identify possible exposures and risk factors for the illness, engage the communities and traditional healers to understand what traditional remedies were used and be able to either associate or disassociate them with exposure. The report says that the team was also tasked to confirm the causative agent of death or illness and further recommend evidence-based control measures, which is still ongoing.