By Steven Enatu
Hon Musa Francis Ecweru the Member of Parliament Amuria County who also doubles as the state minister for roads and transport has called for thorough hepatitis B screening exercise in Amuria and Soroti.
This comes after the death of Rev. Canon Justine Okello Emwogo, the Archdeacon of Amuria Archdeaconry in church of Uganda Soroti Diocese on suspected hepatitis B illness about a fortnight ago and was buried on the 15th December 2022.
Ecweru said the Rev. succumbed to hepatitis B according to medical reports from the hospitals he was admitted to but a section of the church leadership chose to peddle a narrow propaganda that the late was poisoned and this endangered the lives of the community.
He said that the church leaders together with Christians went on to bury the deceased without observing the standard operating procedures as was issued from Kirudu hospital where the deceased died. The late’s body was taken to Amuria, Odudoi in Soroti, Soroti church of Uganda diocese headquarters and later in Asuret where he was laid to rest.
According to Ecweru, the late was diagnosed with hepatitis B from Soroti regional referral hospital and then he was referred to Doctors Plaza where he was managed on supportive treatment and became fine. Unfortunately, he went back home and stopped medication and later the situation worsened.
“He was taken back to the main hospital Soroti and they checked his file and found that he had hepatitis B and at that point he had a belching stomach, swollen legs and fluids mixed with blood were removed from the body. Here they recommended palliative care for him but the church preferred and sought a second opinion from Lacho hospital before being taken to Kirudu and still it was confirmed that hepatitis B had damaged the liver,” he said.
Though he did not share with the media the copy of the medical report from the respective medical facilities, Ecweru was furious with the section of church leaders who chose to blindfold the Christians in superstition instead of science.
“The church should not continue in this manner; they should do what they are supposed to do and let the scientists do what they can do. This kind of incident should not repeat,” he emphasized.
He however noted that the ministry of health will come up with proper guidelines of tracing the contacts but strongly encouraged the family and the Christians who in any way came in contact with the deceased to go for hepatitis B screening.
“A psychosocial support shall be offered and those who are found positive shall be enrolled in treatment, Hepatitis B is still around and the good thing is that it can be managed, I strongly advise that let people go for checkup but church leaders must respect scientists,” he said.
Rev Samuel Ediau, the diocesan secretary church of Uganda Soroti diocese when contacted said that church is still mourning and would not like to be involved in the matter.
“If he knew that, why didn’t he come and tell people that during the burial, it is very provocative and we do not like to be involved in it. The widow was consistent and she kept on mentioning that the husband had died of hepatitis B” Rev Samuel Ediau on phone.
On the other hand, Dr Wilson Etolu the consultant physician at Soroti regional referral hospital and Doctors plaza where the late is said to have been admitted before passing on said they referred the family to Lacho and Mulago after they refused to believe in their report indicating that the late had hepatitis B.
“We decided to keep ourselves out of it and I do not know the report they got from the other facilities; I have not seen but if Musa told you like that then it must be” he concluded in a phone interview.
Rev. Canon Justine Okello Emwogo, the Archdeacon of Amuria Archdeaconry Died on the 12th of December 2022.