Dokolo | Dokolo district local government through the Ministry of Health is set to roll out Indoor Residual Spraying in a bid to fight the spread of malaria.
Malaria is an acute febrile illness caused by Plasmodium parasites, which are spread to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is preventable and curable.
Eugene Odongo, the Assistant District Health Officer (ADHO) in charge of administration said of the upcoming exercise during a sensitization meeting of the sub-county task force in Okwongodul sub-county, Dokolo district.
Odongo notes that the exercise will run from November 6, 2023, up to December 2, 2023, across six sub-counties.
The secretary of health and education for Dokolo district, Okuja Santos has now tasked and challenged the spray operators to be ambassadors in the fight against malaria through sensitising the community on measures of controlling its spread.
Meanwhile, the Resident District Commissioner, Barbra Akech urged the locals to embrace the program and cooperate with the spray operators. RDC Akech urged locals to also support the government programmes.
Records from the District Health Department (biostatistician) indicate that over 27,000 malaria cases have been registered in the district within a space of 17 weeks.
The data also shows that from January to March 2023, the district registered 27,899 cases of malaria across the Outpatient Department (OPD) with 4% of them being severe cases.
In April, the district malaria epidemic response meeting came up with strong resolutions including the use of Parish Development Model structures to reach out to the community members and sensitise them about the related dangers of malaria.
Dokolo district hosts an overall population of about 227,100 with 14 sub-counties/town councils, 71 parishes, and 484 villages yet only served with 1 health centre IV, 9 health centre IIIs, and 7 health centre IIs.
What you need to know
Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health (MoH) held a dialogue on malaria with Members of Parliament under their umbrella body, Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Malaria (UPFM).
The dialogue under the theme: “The role of the Eleventh Parliament in making malaria elimination priority: the critical importance of reaching marginalised populations with the tools and strategies that are available” aimed at raising awareness among UPFM members, and decision-makers about the critical need to reach everybody, with the available tools and strategies to fight malaria.
In his submission to the August House, Thomas Tayebwa, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament called for more sensitization efforts to mobilise communities to join the fight against malaria.
“Let us sensitise our people to stop using mosquito nets for fishing, harvesting coffee, making a local brew and trapping grasshoppers. Others use nets as mattresses. This must stop. If residual spraying has worked in other communities, leaders should not stand in its way when it comes to their communities,” he said.
Tayebwa observed that fighting malaria doesn’t have to be about the amount of money available, but instead embracing the basic strategies such as clearing bushes around homes.
“Let us use plants in our homes that are mosquito repellents. As leaders, we must combine efforts and kick malaria out of Uganda and save lives by ensuring that our people take the basic prevention measures such as draining stagnant water, and clearing bushes, as laid out by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization,” he added.
Dr. Jimmy Opigo, the Assistant Commissioner in charge of the National Malaria Control Division at the Ministry of Health noted that Uganda has continued to record an upsurge of malaria cases, especially in Karamoja, Acholi and Bukedea sub-regions despite different government interventions to contain the disease.
He urged the Members of Parliament to embrace the Ministry’s programs aimed at fighting malaria and advocate for more funding towards the cause.
“On World Malaria Day, we rolled out the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets, and this exercise will soon be extended to parishes across Uganda. We urge leaders to work with us and ensure the nets are well distributed, and used by people in their respective communities,” he said.
Dr. Charles Katureebe, the Malaria Advisor at WHO Uganda has asked members of the forum to include malaria among the other 19 neglected tropical diseases and called for political commitment at all levels to ensure a successful fight against the disease.
“We need to have mass action against malaria where control is everyone’s responsibility, at all levels,” he said. “We need to break down the slogan ‘A Malaria-free constituency is our responsibility’ to all levels of the constituency to ensure all leaders at schools, factories, churches work towards malaria-free communities under their care.”
He also called for the strengthening of community systems to ensure that efforts in the fight against malaria are not in vain.
“We need to ensure that utilisation tools are duly adhered to by the people. Saying that we distributed mosquito bed nets is not enough if people are not sleeping under them. Indoor spraying alone is not enough, but it must be done with an effective safe insecticide,” Dr. Katureebe said.
Uganda is currently experiencing a new burden of malaria since January 2022 with cases rising higher by the end of the year. At the peak, more than 300,000 cases were reported every week.
According to WHO, Uganda has the world’s highest malaria incidence rate of 478 cases per 1,000 population per year. It is also the leading cause of sickness and death in Uganda and is responsible for up to 40 per cent of all outpatient visits, 25 per cent of hospital admissions and 14 per cent of all hospital deaths.
The malaria death rate in Uganda is estimated to be between 70,000 and 100,000 deaths per year; a toll that exceeds that of HIV/AIDS.