With all the work that has gone into fighting it, malaria still kills tons of people despite the fact that it is preventable. In an article on news.trust.org a 74 year old Rose Acayo of Gulu District narrates how she had been sleeping under a worn out inherited mosquito net which consequently exposed her to malaria infection. Just as she was recovering, her two-year-old grandchild in her care also fell ill which left her with medical bills she could not meet. How can we draw the line for zero malaria infections as this year’s World Malaria Day theme states?
According to the World Health Organisation 2019 report, Uganda was the third highest contributor to global malaria cases, at 13.7 million cases. Globally, we were the eighth highest contributor to malaria deaths at 5,610 deaths. Malaria therefore remains a high cause of death and financial constraints, considering its non-discriminatory nature in terms of age, gender, race, economic or social status. Transmission lines are very thin and so is the severity, failure to stop its spread will continue causing high levels of poverty among the poor as treatment is a financial burden which they cannot afford.
What we can do
As the world puts the spotlight on the fight against malaria, CEHURD joins the rest of the world to ensure acceptable, accessible, affordable and good quality health for all. As a country, Uganda is making efforts to reduce malaria infections and morbidity in a sustainable way through mass media awareness campaigns, and distribution of free mosquito nets, among other interventions.
In a recent press statement, Dr Joyce Kaducu, Minister of State for Health- Primary Health Care revealed that there are currently no malaria outbreaks in the country. She, however, warned that there is a risk of outbreaks due to the ongoing heavy rains in various parts of the country. These rains can lead to flooding, which contaminates water sources and increases vegetation around homes, creating a conducive atmosphere for mosquitoes to breed. In order to prevent these outbreaks, the Ministry of Health urges everyone to step up the implementation of preventive measures. This includes sleeping under treated mosquito nets, getting rid of stagnant water, and seeking medical assistance where symptoms present.
Call to action
It is important to improve overall health care. The government should therefore provide quality assured services for malaria prevention and treatment to all the people in Uganda. This will lead to a good standard of health, which contributes to national development. It is also important to ensure that there is sufficient stock of essential supplies and medicines to minimise possible capacity constraints, and reduce the burden on health facilities in providing services to diagnose and treat malaria.
Change also begins with each of us. Let us do our part in preventing malaria, and if diagnosed, seek medical treatment. While preventing COVID-19 is the current issue, let us not forget that “mosquitoes are not in lockdown, they are still free”, as Mr Jimmy Opigo, a programme manager of the National Malaria Control Programme said.