By Irene Mirembe
The theme for this year’s World Malaria Day is Invest in the future. Defeat malaria, indeed if we are to achieve zero death from Malaria, as a country, we must focus our energy and resources in the fight against malaria.
According to the 2011 demographic and health survey, malaria remains the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Uganda with pregnant mothers and children fewer than five most affected. If not treated, malaria can quickly become life-threatening leading death.
Global efforts to control and eliminate malaria have saved an estimated 3.3 million lives since 2000, reducing malaria mortality rates by 42% globally and 49% in Africa.
Malaria is responsible for more illness and death than any other single disease in Uganda. It remains the biggest killer of children in Uganda mainly because the majority does not sleep under a bed net, while others do not receive the proper treatment for it in good time.
An estimated 190,000 children under five die in Uganda every year, and nearly 37% of those deaths are due to malaria because the majority do not sleep under a bed net, while others do not receive the proper treatment for it in good time.
Others most at risk include People living with HIV and pregnant women
Malaria is preventable and curable. The best and effective way to prevent malaria is the use of insecticide-treated net, currently over 45% of Ugandans have access to an insecticide-treated net according to the 2011 Demographic and Health Survey, thanks to government and private sector efforts to ensure availability of nets have been put in place.
If Uganda is to maintain and accelerate progress against malaria, in line with Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6, and to ensure attainment of MDGs 4 and 5, more funds are urgently required.
Uganda’s response to eliminate malaria has created impact and yielded remarkable returns in the past years. However, these gains are fragile and will be reversed unless the disease continues to be a priority for the, national decision makers and partners
The Ministry of Health is working hand in hand with the private sector and with support from donors, has embarked on a programme to achieve and sustain universal coverage with LLINs as a way of preventing ,Malaria.
Reducing malaria burden will not only contribute to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 target of reducing under-five mortality by two-thirds by 2015 but also to MDGs related to poverty reduction, education, and maternal health.
Today, a number of key interventions to control malaria have been conducted such as prompt and effective treatment; use of insecticidal nets; and indoor residual spraying to control mosquitoes.
For treatment of malaria, the Government recommends use of affordable medicines accessibility for quality malaria medicine.
Around 60% of the people seeking treatment refer to a private provider, most commonly to the nearby drug shop. Therefore, training drug shop owners and health facility service providers in basic malaria prevention and treatment will go a long way in saving lives.
The Government should, therefore, address issues of accessibility of these affordable medicines (ACTs) and RDTs by ensuring that they are available in the drug shops of health facilities near communities.
Partners like donors and private sector have made this possible by increasing accessibility of nets to households most at risk.
Continuous provision of clear, credible and complete information about malaria prevention to the general public is a key for malaria control and eventually decreasing malaria related illness and death.
Lastly, promotion and implementation of community-based interventions in the malaria programme is the backbone of effective community participation which ensures responsiveness, ownership and sustainability of disease control interventions.
The writer is a communications coordinator