- The Ugandan government has banned all social gatherings in the west and northern parts of the country after the death of 20 people due to meningitis. Another 150 have been hospitalised since the deadly disease was reported early this year.
The disease which was first reported in reported in Dadamu Sub-county early this month has spread to Ogoko, Ajia, Hoima and Oluko sub-counties, reports have revealed.
A health official, Dr Patrick Anguzu said places such as discos, conferences, markets and other such activities were banned starting Wednesday. "This leaves concerts by Kampala-based singer Bebe Cool slated and the Monday one at Annex Gardens hanging in the balance," the official told Daily Monitor.
Meningitis affects tissues enclosing the brain and spinal cord, making them swell and causing the victim severe headache, fever and sometimes death. It is caused by a bacteria and transmitted through contact with respiratory or throat secretions.
Dr Anguzu said the disease thrives well in congested areas and urged the community to avoid crowds. Most people got infected because initially, they thought the victims had been bewitched, according to local reports.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said one sub-county in Hoima had crossed the meningitis epidemic threshold. There was also concern about Karamoja region where dry weather had set in.
In Hoima, the number of people infected with meningitis has also steadily increased, and according to local reports 14 people had died and 44 others were infected with the deadly disease.
The Ministry of Health is reported to have been preparing to carry out massive vaccination in the affected sub counties next week, of which some of the worst hit sub-counties were missed in the 2007 and 2008 vaccination exercises.
The district vice chairman, Sabo Kamilo, said despite the escalation of the disease, schools would open for the first term on February 2. "We shall still open schools. People must not be scared to send their children to school as the term begins," he said.
Uganda lies within the African meningitis belt, stretching from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east, according to WHO. The region, home to about 350 million people, experiences meningitis cycles whenever the dry season sets in. Up to 30,000 people suffer from the disease each year in Uganda.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.