Busia family in fear after man dies from hepatitis B

A family in Katira village in Nambale subcounty, Busia county, is living in fear after a 31-year-old man died from hepatitis B.

Family members said Philip Opaye started complaining of a stomachache last year and was diagnosed with ulcers. 

However, his condition deteriorated, and he succumbed to the illness at Kocholia Subcounty Hospital on October 3 this year, shortly after he was diagnosed with hepatitis B virus. 

“He used to complain of headache, stomachache and diarrhoea. We took him to various hospitals in Kenya and Totoro in Uganda, but they told us he was suffering from ulcers. Later on, they conducted another test and told us he was suffering from hepatitis B, which had affected his liver.” 

Health executive Isaac Omeri said screening has been conducted among members of his family and one of them has tested positive. 

“We have dispatched a team of health officials on the ground to educate residents. We call for calm,” Omeri said. 

Residents claim several people have died in the area in a similar way but they assumed it was poisoning. 

“This is not the first time we are losing someone in this area in such a manner. We have buried many people who died this way, but we have always assumed they have been poisoned,” a resident said. 

Nambale subcounty deputy commissioner Caroline Onchoka said they have collaborated with health officers to put in place measures to contain the disease.

“Health officers are on the ground carrying out tests and will vaccinate residents. Currently, it’s only children who are vaccinated for free and adults have to pay. We are also using chiefs, their assistants to organise barazas in the area to sensitise the community on how to avert the disease from spreading. 

“Constructing latrines is one of the key things we want them to do because the report we have is that even the affected family has no latrine and that is risky as far as hepatitis B is concerned.”

Edited by R.Wamochie