Fear has engulfed communities living close to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve following the death of three people while others are in critical condition after suffering from sleeping sickness.
The latest death is of 22-year-old Dorothy Banda from Tongole Village in Traditional Authority (T/A) Mphonde, who died on Friday at Nkhotakota District Hospital after being diagnosed with the disease.
According to information from Nkhotakota District Hospital, 30 people have so far been diagnosed with the disease while six are in hospital.
A tour of the area yesterday revealed that Banda’s death had brought panic to the community.
“We are shocked with her loss. Now we are living in fear because Tsetse-flies are almost everywhere. Authorities have to do something so that we are protected,” said David Ngulube, the deceased’s grandfather.
Nkhotakota District Hospital acting director of health and social services Wezzie Mumba said late reporting to hospital makes it difficult to treat the disease.
“We currently have the medication. With African Parks, we conduct community awareness because what we have noted is that many people report late to hospital,” she said.
Meanwhile, College of Medicine is conducting a study on sleeping sickness in Nkhotakota and Rumphi districts.
A researcher in the study, Peter Nambala said the disease remains a public health threat; hence, the country needs to explore ways to tame its spread.
“In our research, we have discovered that late reporting of cases to hospital as well as misdiagnosis by health personnel are challenges affecting the fight against the disease,” he said.
Last year, only four people tested positive to sleeping sickness while in 2017, only one case was registered in the district.