A rice field: There is an increase of Malaria cases among Workers at Kilimburi Rice Scheme in Nyagatare district. The Sunday Times

NYAGATARE-Many workers at Kilimburi Rice Scheme in Nyagatare district have been hit by Malaria due to lack of mosquito nets.

The scheme in Tabagwe Sector, Nyagatare District, is run by Rural Sector Support Project (RSSP) and is set to produce 21,000 tonnes of rice annually with a projected annual income of Rwf 4.5 billion once complete.

When The Sunday Times visited over 170 workers camping in tents in Cyenjojo cell, most of them were suffering from severe malaria.

“I have slept in this tent for a week without going to work because of severe Malaria that hit me last week. We don’t get access to mosquito nets yet this place is home to mosquitoes due to its terrain,” narrated one Nzabamwita, a casual worker at the rice scheme.

Another worker, who declined to be named said; “We hear there is a massive distribution of mosquito nets around the district…but we wonder why RSSP did not advocate for us to receive those prevention kits like others. And when we complain of suffering from Malaria, our managers keep a deaf ear,” he said.

A report presented in a recent district security meeting cited Nyagatare District as having the highest cases of malaria compared to other districts in the country.

According to reports compiled from various health centres in the district, Nyagatare tops with 40.4% malaria prevalence.

While the government plans to uproot malaria by the year 2015, health specialists in the district warn that the percentage of infection could rise unless tough measures are taken.

“Nyagatare’s terrain provides suitable breeding ground for mosquitoes. There are also people like herdsmen who live in places with low penetration of mosquito nets such things fuel the spread of malaria,” said Dr. Benon Karekezi Rukunda, the Director of Nyagatare Hospital.

Olivier Ruhumuriza, a Health Inspector at the hospital, said workers at Kilimburi Sice scheme will be included in the second phase of mosquito net distribution.

Apart from having no mosquito nets, most workers at the scheme told The Sunday Times that they don’t even have health insurance commonly known as Mutuelle.

“I have been suffering from Malaria for the last four days without reporting to work. I could not afford going to hospital for treatment because I don’t have health insurance. I decided to buy tablets on the black market to see if I can improve,” he said.

Geoffrey Kamugisha, the head of health insurance scheme in Nyagatare District, recently told reporters that only workers who pay for health insurance receive direct services.

Speaking to reporters, Benjamin Murigande, an official from RSSP, said they agreed with Nyagatare hospital, Rwempasha and Nyagatare health centres to always offer medical services to the workers and payment deducted from the workers’ salaries.

By Dan Ngabonziza, The New Times

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