In 2018, Uganda had the third highest malaria prevalence and seventh highest percentage of malaria deaths according to the World Malaria Report 2019. The report also indicated that 30% of all the people visiting health centres in Uganda that year, had malaria.
As such, the government has reinforced the existing measures employed to reduce the malaria prevalence in the country.
As of today, the Ministry of Health notes that malaria has been reduced from 42% in 2009 to 18% in 2014 and 9% in 2018.
Government interventions in reducing the malaria prevalence
One of the interventions adopted by the government of Uganda in an effort to end malaria is the distribution of free Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) to the public.
This year, the government, through the Health Ministry, has been conducting the ‘Under the Net’ campaign, a national campaign meant to cover all the regions of the country in 6 waves. So far, three waves have been conducted starting with the high burdened areas.
The World Health Organisation notes that Malaria control and elimination programmes should prioritize the delivery of either Insecticide Treated Nets or Indoor Residual Spraying at high coverage and to a high standard, a move the Ministry has implemented.
However, the Ministry emphasizes, other methods which are also effective in reducing the breeding of mosquitoes can also be adopted by households.
The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health, Dr Diana Atwine revealed that they have embarked on enforcing the President’s directive of engaging leaders in the various categories be it local communities or religious sections, in the fight against preventable diseases like Malaria.
“The countries that have eliminated malaria have not depended on their Ministry of health efforts. They have depended on everyone’s effort to eliminate this disease,” Dr. Atwine said.
She added that although government has tried to reach out to most households distributing free LLINs to people, the activity is wholesomely expensive.
According to her, malaria can still be prevented with other simple measures. However, this can only be possible if people know some basic information about them.
“Some people just lack information. For example, some people can afford to buy paint. If you are in your own house and you can paint using plascon, it can help to reduce mosquitoes. It has a composition that kills mosquitoes. So if you paint your house with it, you know that you have directly fumigated and that can go for over years,” she revealed.
She advised those who intend to paint their houses to use such paint, as it can directly repel mosquitoes.
Atwine further noted that some sanitizers also have mosquito repellents in them and these can add a protective layer against mosquito bites.
She asked health educators reach out to their people, especially in providing information to various localities to ensure that people are maintaining good sanitation in the communities.
“Health educators should go out of offices; walk through homes. Health inspectors should play their part too,” she said.
Atwine also cautioned that areas affected by floods are at a bigger risk, although there is hope that this will be solved sooner.
“We have taken note of Amuru because of the climate change; the rain. However, it is not only Amuru that has been affected by the flooding. Even when you go to areas like Mukono, Buliisa or all those areas that are near waterbodies, they are grossly affected. We hope that it is just for a season and it will be sorted,” she said.
“We just need to enhance the communication. I believe that once we continue promoting communicating, the public will be sensitised and therefore will start becoming aware of some of these interventions,” she added.
Government directives on malaria prevention
The Mass Action for Malaria Free Uganda Handbook for leaders by the government of Uganda notes that everyone has a role to play.
Therefore, it states in part, for the case of households, the members are urged to sleep under treated mosquito nets every night throughout they year, check for fever on every family member and report to Village Health Teams or health facilities for testing, treatment, guidance and follow up once fever is observed.
The handbook also urges the members of the various households to take the malaria treatment as advised by health workers, demand for correct information on malaria, attend antenatal care regularly for pregnant women and take at least 3 doses of appropriate medicine once infected.