Mwinilunga parents reject bilharzia drug, mistake it for Covid-19 vaccine


Parents in Kawiku, Kabanda and Kasangeji communities in Mwinilunga district are allegedly telling their children not to accept praziquantel, a bilharzia drug being administered in schools.

The parents allege that the drug is a Covid-19 vaccine.

Sharon Kamwengo, a parent, said people in the area are living in fear due to the Covid-19 pandemic hence they are treating every drug related matter with caution and reservation.

“We are living in fear due to Covid-19, there are so many theories about the cure and source of the virus so we are sceptical about everything that comes,” she said.

Another parent, John Kaimana, said recent happenings in the Ministry of Health pertaining to alleged procurement of expired drugs and recalling of many medicines has contributed to parents rejecting the anti-bilharzia drug.

Mr. Kaimana said parents in the area are not aware of the disposal details of the drugs that were allegedly expired hence the scepticism.

He said parents are left to think that the drugs are still present in health facilities and the private dispensaries.

“We have not seen where the drugs have been taken or how they have been destroyed apart from being informed that there are expired drugs,” he said.

The parents were speaking during a community sensitisation meeting conducted by the district administration, district health office and the District Education Board Secretary (DEBS) offices at Kabanda primary school.

The parents further cited lack of prior sensitisation on the anti-bilharzia drug administration exercise as the reason for their rejection of the exercise.

Meanwhile, Mwinilunga District Health Director Brian Mwachisowa dispelled the allegations and assured parents of the safety of praziquantel.

Dr. Mwachisowa said the drug is meant to protect children who are more vulnerable to contracting bilharzia.

He said it is impossible for government to administer poison to its citizens because such an action is against medical practice ethics and social morals.

“Government will never poison its own citizens. I can guarantee you this can never happen,” he said. Dr. Mwachisowa explained that the bilharzia drug is being administered in a number of districts in the province to curb the high prevalence of the disease in children between the age of five and 14 years.