Sembabule- Sembabule District residents have rejected the ongoing Hepatitis B testing, treatment and vaccination on grounds that it is expensive.
Private hospitals charge about Shs35,000 for the vaccine, which residents say is too high. They instead demand free services from the government.
Late last year, the district registered several cases of Hepatitis B, when a number of residents missed joining the army after testing positive. Health officials carried out further tests where 23 people tested positive out of the 53 who had been shortlisted to join the army.
Leaders, led by Dr Charles Matovu, the district health officer and Dr Elly Muhumuza, the district chairperson, were forced to write to the Ministry of Health, notifying it of the urgent need to have their residents vaccinated against Hepatitis B.
“Amid the increasing cases, coupled with public outcry for vaccination, the ministry told us that they had no budget for Hepatitis B at that time.
This forced us to seek services from private players from Mbarara Community Hospital, to offer the services to those who could afford, as we wait for government intervention,” Dr Muhumuza told Daily Monitor in an interview yesterday.
He said under this arrangement, the private service provider is supposed to charge Shs35,000 for testing, treatment and vaccination.
However, Dr Muhumuza expressed dismay over the low turn-up, especially in Sembabule Town Council, where residents claim they cannot raise the required amount.
“A few people turned up for treatment and we still appeal to the Ministry of Health to consider our outcry because the number of residents who need Hepatitis B services is overwhelming, especially in Lugusulu Sub-county,” Dr Muhumuza said.
Mr Christopher Tebasingwa, a resident in Sembabule Town, said many residents currently lack food to eat and cannot spend the little money they have on Hepatitis B treatment.
“If it was one of the common diseases maybe we could sacrifice the little money we have and get treatment, but I have never seen anyone suffering from Hepatitis B here,” he said.
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease. The virus is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person .
The viral disease is prevalent in Northern Uganda and according to the Ministry of Health estimates, 30 per cent of the population in northern Uganda could be infected with the virus. Lira and Dokolo are the worst hit districts in Lango sub-region.