Uganda has recorded strides in fighting malaria, with prevalence rates and deaths dropping.
By Francis Kagolo
Uganda has recorded strides in fighting malaria, with prevalence rates and deaths dropping compared to five years ago, according to a senior official in the Ministry of Health.
“Monthly reports indicate that deaths and morbidity rates are no longer comparable to what the situation was three years ago.
The numbers have reduced quite substantially,” Dr. Myers Lugemwa, the team leader for the malaria control programme, told New Vision online on Tuesday.
The news comes as Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate the 7th World Malaria Day today under the theme: “Sustain Gains; Save Lives; Invest in Malaria.”
The national function at Dokolo district hospital grounds will be presided over by the health minister, Dr. Christine Ondoa.
Claiming over 320 lives daily, malaria has been number one cause of sickness and death in Uganda for several decades.
The disease consumes 10% of the Ministry of Health budget and 25% of household incomes. Besides, it Is said Uganda loses over sh658m annually to malaria-related costs.
However, Lugemwa said that although the ministry is to verify all statistics and compile a concrete report in December, raw data shows the problem is reducing.
“We have been to districts like Mubende where malaria-related deaths have gone below 20 from over 100 a month,” he explained.
“Even from laboratory diagnoses, the number of people with fever testing positive to malaria is not as high as it used to be three years ago.”
Increased mosquito nets access key
Lugemwa attributed the achievement to the increased access to insecticide-treated mosquito nets and indoor residual spraying in the north.
He revealed that the ministry had distributed 7.3 million nets in the past one year alone while another million is to be distributed in October this year.
Thus, the percentage of Ugandan households owning at least one mosquito net has risen from 2% in 2000, to 46% in 2010, according to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) global malaria report.
Among the most at risk population, at least 33% of children under the age of five sleep under treated nets, as well as 77% of pregnant women, says the WHO report released last year.
More funding needed
Lugemwa, however, challenged the Government to boost funding for malaria control. He said over 90% of the funds come from donors.
“Although we are making some progress, Uganda is still the third top contributor to the global malaria burden. This calls for more funding to scale up our interventions,” he noted.
In a Tuesday statement, minister Ondoa also commended the free Artemisin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs) provided in public health facilities, saying they had saved the situation.
“Management of fevers at community level has been strengthened with free access to ACTs in all public health facilities and those that are private not for profit,” Ondoa noted.
She said the World Malaria Day would provide a chance for malaria-free countries to learn about the devastating consequences of the disease and for new donors to join a global partnership.
“This day serves as a reminder to all of us that malaria is a major cause of sickness and death.”
The minister urged the public to seek treatment immediately after getting malaria symptoms so as to curb deaths.
1. FULL STATEMENT ON MALARIA from WHO
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Uganda improves in malaria fight