THE Health and Child Care Ministry is currently training community health workers in Hurungwe and Kariba on how to manage sleeping sickness.
By Kuda Pembere
Amid indications of misdiagnosis of this condition also known as human African trypanomiasis, with technical support of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the ministry found it necessary to bridge the knowledge gap. The training workshop which began on Monday ends on Friday.
“We want to develop and capacitate human African trypanomiasis health facilities as well as strengthening the diagnosis and treatment of the disease at health facilities within the affected areas.
“We also want to training of stuff (doctors and nurses) at referral hospitals in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease,” said WHO Zimbabwe National Programs Officer for Neglected Tropical Diseases Dr Anderson Chimusoro.
He added that there might be missing cases of sleeping sickness because the health workers in affected areas are not trained properly and do not have proper equipment.
” Of course there might be a reduction of cases but since the disease is fatal the decrease does not justify death from something that can be treated.
“So they want to train health workers in the event that if someone presents at the hospital with sleeping sickness signs and symptoms they can be helped,” Dr Chimusoro said.
He said misdiagnosis is common and , “most of the people are being wrongly diagnosed. They may be diagnosed as having malaria and fever. At the moment in Kariba are eight cases that have been reported,” he said.
Director Epidemiology and Disease Control, Dr Portia Managazira said there is neglect for NTDs across board and Zimbabwe’s health system has actually neglected the disease while focus is being given to other diseases such as HIV, TB and Malaria.
“There is neglect across the board, donors, government and even fellow professionals apart from just learning about the diseases and passing exams, they don’t quite relate it to the effects of the diseases. The health system itself has neglected the diseases, many of the children would go to the teacher to say I see worms when I pass stool and blood when I pass urine so these are really diseases that dot really need us as clinicians to tell you that there is something wrong
“So it is really the neglect in terms of the drivers that cause or harbor these NTDs. Are they toilets in that area and this is part of the reason why children look at their stool because there are no Blair toilets? There is neglect in terms of the environmental factors, children and water contact activities are rife, children are just getting into these water bodies infested with parasites,” said Dr Manangazira.