-Witchdoctor Wanted For Sabotaging Anthrax Control Efforts
By Insight Post Uganda
Since the onset of the Anthrax outbreak in Kyotera District in June of this year, a concerning situation has spread out, threatening both human and livestock populations.
The response to this public health crisis has been marred by a clash between traditional beliefs and modern medical interventions, leading to tragic consequences.
At the beginning of the outbreak, Justine Nansamba, the head of Traditional Healers in the Masaka Region, propagated a narrative attributing the deaths of humans and animals to witchcraft because the district health officials, the Ministry of Health, and the World Health Organization had not established the actual cause at that time.
Despite the efforts of the health authorities, Nansamba took advantage of the gaps to claim that harmful charms brought into the communities were the cause of the problem.
Shockingly, she solicited Ugx5.5 million from worried residents to address the issue. Despite the payment, the situation worsened.
More deaths occurred, and to complicate matters further, Nansamba and other traditional healers confined patients in their shrines, actively discouraging them from seeking medical attention in hospitals.
This decision proved detrimental, as it not only denied patients access to proper healthcare but also hindered the efforts of health authorities in controlling the outbreak.
In a disturbing situation, the traditional healers, including Nansamba, have aggressively confronted health authorities and the surveillance team attempting to diagnose patients in their shrines.
This confrontational approach further hindered the efforts to contain the Anthrax outbreak. The situation has since escalated, resulting in more deaths, and it became evident that the matter was slipping beyond the control of the traditional healers.
Realising the gravity of the situation, traditional healers eventually abandoned the patients in their shrines and disappeared from the communities.
This abrupt departure left patients without proper care and further underscored the urgency for coordinated efforts between traditional practices and modern healthcare to address public health crises effectively.
Wanted For Sabotage
In collaboration with the Anthrax taskforce, the Greater Masaka Regional Security Committee has issued orders for the arrest of Nansamba and other traditional healers for confining ill patients and abandoning them in their shrines.
Nansamba is accused of diverting Anthrax patients away from professional healthcare providers and into the realm of witchcraft which is jeopardizing the campaign to end the outbreak.
She is alleged to have been misleading Anthrax patients, convincing them to reject professional medical care in favour of traditional healing methods in addition to obtaining large amounts of money from the affected communities by pretense.
Intelligence briefings to the regional security committee have also revealed that Nansamba, along with her agents, has been luring Anthrax patients from Kyotera and Rakai districts to her shrine in Kimanya cell, on the outskirts of Masaka City.
Ahmed Kateregga, the Deputy Masaka City Resident Commissioner, confirmed reports indicating Nansamba’s attempts to mislead the community into believing that Anthrax is a result of sorcery.
The disease has claimed at least 18 lives since its inception, with at least 40 individuals hospitalised due to symptoms.
Kateregga expressed concern over Nansamba’s actions, asserting that she is impeding ongoing interventions to prevent the disease’s further spread.
Kyotera and Rakai district authorities have already imposed a total ban on the movement and consumption of livestock and related products due to a confirmed Anthrax outbreak that has affected both animals and humans.
The district taskforce is also maintaining strict surveillance to prevent the illegal movement of livestock and related products from the restricted area.
We could not get Nansamba to comment on the allegations and the arrest order since her known mobile numbers were switched off. A close ally, who preferred anonymity so as not to be reprimanded, says she doesn’t want to be traced or be arrested.
Dr. John Lutaaya, the Kyotera District Veterinary Officer, confirmed instructions given to parish surveillance committees to ensure strict adherence to all quarantine restrictions.
He emphasised the need for reporting all Anthrax-related animal deaths to ensure proper disposal of carcasses through burial or incineration.
Meanwhile, Kyotera and Rakai districts await the allocation of vaccines from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Animal Husbandry to conduct mass vaccinations for livestock against Anthrax.