WEST NILE. Over 90 people in the eight districts that make up West Nile sub-region have missed out on recruitment into the Local Defense Unit (LDU) after testing positive for Hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease. The LDU recruitment exercise, which started in Kampala and surrounding areas, has since been extended upcountry.
But at the weekend, Col Ronald Bigirwa, the head of the recruitment exercise in West Nile, said the discovery shocked them.
“We found more than 90 of the recruits having Hepatitis B from the eight districts. This is an indication that a bigger number of the population is infected. In Yumbe district, I discussed with the leadership to encourage immunization,” he said.
He added: “People do not fear Hepatitis B but HIV Aids and people do not know that it is more dangerous than HIV/Aids. It is unfortunate that we could not take them on because our principle is that we should recruit physically and medically fit personnel for training. Those ones were eliminated though they had the papers and completed the road run well.”
Apart from Hepatitis B infections, there were two cases of people disqualified for living positively with HIV/Aids and two were found with forgery cases.
West Nile sub-region consists of Adjumani, Arua, Koboko, Maracha, Moyo, Nebbi, Yumbe and Zombo districts.
Nevertheless, about 140 people were recruited from the region, Col Bigirwa said. President Museveni ordered for recruitment of 24000 LDUs in Kampala, Mukono and Wakiso a day after former Buyende District police commander, Muhammad Kirumira, was gunned down at Bulenga Township, along Kampala –Mityana highway. Kirumira assassination came 90 days after Arua Municipality MP, Col Ibrahim Abiriga, was gunned down.
The LDUs will be deployed in their areas of residence to conduct patrols within the villages, gather information, be listening posts, attend village security meetings, report incidents and to file patrol reports.
The 2017 Ministry of Health statistics indicate that West Nile Sub-region had Hepatitis infection rate at 10 per cent.
According to WHO, An estimated 257 million people are living with hepatitis B virus infection (defined as hepatitis B surface antigen positive).In 2015, hepatitis B resulted in 887,000 deaths, mostly from complications (including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma).