9 February 2018

Malawi: Scabies Outbreak Hits Ntchisi - District Health Office Has No Medication for 'Mphere'

A scabies outbreak has hit some parts of of Ntchisi District have been hit by scabies, a contagious itchy skin disease, but the district's health office does not presently have medication for the disease which is locally known as Mphere.

The disease has wreaked havoc among people in three traditional authorities of Chikho, Kasakula and Nthondo in the district.

While confirming having received cases and reports of the disease from the said areas since September last year, Ntchisi District Health Officer, Dr Zondwayo Ng'oma said the district heath office does not have BB paint which is used for treating scabies.

"We normally purchase our medical drugs from the Central Medical Stores which, unfortunately, does not have the BB paint in stock," said Ng'oma, adding the office has sometimes been assisted by the skin department at Kamuzu Central Hospital which has it in stock from donations," said Ng'oma.

However, the DHO said patients are being advised to buy the medication from private hospitals or pharmacies which have it.

He further explained that most importantly, communities are advised to practice proper hygiene standards at all times to prevent themselves from getting scabies or have a fast cure for those who have already contracted it.

"We are always encouraging the people to practice preventive measures like taking a bath at least twice a day and putting on clean clothes among others," said Ng'oma.

Traditional Authority Chikho said in a separate interview that some children who have been affected by the skin disease in his area have stopped going to school, adding that health authorities have been advising people in the area to practice hygiene.

He, however, pointed out that because some people in his area have been affected by the disease, it does not mean they don't follow proper hygiene.

"The scabies outbreak in my area does not necessarily mean that my people do not follow proper hygiene practices, they have always maintained proper hygiene. The disease has come just like any other disease," said the chief.

Grey Tsogolani, a Health Surveillance Assistant (HSA) at Mwinaba Health Centre in the same Chikho area, said he has registered over 130 cases of scabies in his catchment area so far since September last year (2017) and that the numbers keep increasing.

He said the health post just provides painkillers to those affected and emphasize to the people on the need to practice hygiene.

He also observed that some of the affected children have since stopped going to school.

Filesi Njinga from Lombwa Village in the area said a number of people from her village have so far been affected by scabies and they go to Mzandu Health Centre which is the nearest facility for treatment.


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