Whenever a mother arrives at the Nyarusiza Health Centre IV in Bufumbira South, Kisoro District near the DR Congo border with a young child who is running a temperature, vomiting, or convulsing, the health workers there know the diagnosis is likely to be malaria.
Nyiramugisha is the mother of Fina, 4, who is suffering from malaria for the second time this month. Florence, the nurse at the health centre, has prescribed anti-malarial drugs for Fina once again.
It’s estimated that Ugandan children under the age of five suffer at least three bouts of malaria each year. Many children die of malaria each year. Others become orphaned when their parents succumb to the illness.
Even if it is available, malaria treatment is too costly for many. Mr. Mugisha works at the health centre. He advises parents who come for postnatal consultations to keep their surroundings clean, cover their latrines and sleep under insecticide-treated nets.
For weeks now, the Ministry of Health and the Government of Uganda and its partners, Global Fund, DFID through UNICEF, USAID/PMI and Against Malaria Foundation are conducting the second Universal LLIN Coverage Campaign as one of the interventions to reduce the burden of Malaria. The campaign has reached over 50% of implementation with 87 districts in Northern, Eastern and parts of Western regions successfully covered by this week. A total number of 18,269,327 nets have been distributed protecting approximately 33 million people.
Ms. Vivian Serwanja, the Public Relations Officer of Ministry of Health (MoH) has been moving on several media outlets updating the public on the progress of the ongoing nationwide Long Lasting Insecticide treated Nets (LLIN) campaign.
She told TheUgandan during a phone interview that government is dedicated to chase malaria out of Uganda using available proven interventions including LLINs for prevention.
“Maximum impact on malaria will be achieved through consolidated integration of both prevention and treatment tools as guided by the WHO. For the last five years, the country has intensified actions to bring malaria under control,” Ms Serwanja said.
Currently the country is implementing four major interventions to control Malaria as we move towards the pre-elimination phase.
The campaign has reached over 50% of implementation with 87 districts in Northern, Eastern and parts of Western regions successfully covered. A total number of 18,269,327 nets have been distributed protecting approximately 33 million people.
Serwanja explained that her ministry is using case management, an application of the Test, Treat and Track principle alongside the integrated community case management. They are also employing indoor residual spraying and use of insecticide treated nets alongside advocacy, communication and social mobilization while field officers have as well been dispatched countrywide to do research and surveillance (Larviciding is still undergoing large experiments and research, having completed the smaller experiments).
Big progress, wider waves
According to MoH data, the first campaign of 2013/2014 where approximately 22 million bed nets were distributed throughout the country, contributed to a 50% reduction in Malaria prevalence (from 42% to 19%) as indicated in the 2015 Malaria Indicator Survey.
The mosquito net distribution campaign responds to the Uganda Malaria Reduction Strategic Plan 2014-2020 (UMRSP), which centers it’s strategic objective on prevention, by achieving and sustaining protection of at least 85% of the population at risk to consolidate the gains.
A total of 24 million nets were procured and delivered into the country. This campaign was launched on February 17, 2017 aiming at distribution of one mosquito net per two people in the household.
To date, nets have been distributed in 67 districts covering wave 1, 2 and 3 located in Northern and Eastern regions. A total number of 13,780,453 nets have been distributed in 4,581,265 households providing protection to 25,381,284 people. As you are aware, the mass distribution campaign has reached 50% of implementation, where registration of households has been completed in wave 4 and 5. Distribution of wave 4 has been sub-divided into two phases (4a and 4b).
Distribution under wave 4a started on Sunday, 23rd July, 2017 in the districts of Bushenyi, Hoima, Ibanda, Kabale, Kamwenge, Kiruhura, Kisoro, Kyegegwa, Kyenjojo, Ntungamo, Rubirizi, Rukungiri, Mitooma, Buhweju, Isingiro, Kanungu, Kabarole, Rubanda, Kibaale, and Kakumiro. A total of 4,488,874 nets will be distributed under this wave protecting 8,193,076 people.
This has been followed by districts in wave 5 that include; Mubende, Bukomansimbi, Butambala, Gomba, Kalangala, Kalungu, Kayunga, Kiboga, Kyankwanzi, Luwero, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Masaka, Mityana, Mpigi, Nakaseke, Mukono, Buikwe, Buvuma, Nakasongola, Rakai, and Sembabule.
Wave 4b which covers the districts of Bundibugyo, Kasese, Kagadi, Mbarara and Sheema will receive nets in October, while wave 6 – which is Kampala and Wakiso – will receive nets in November.
Pre-distribution activities for wave 6 have started with Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and the division medical officers. Special consideration has been made to accommodate the unique settlement patterns.
“We initially estimated that 24M would be required for the whole campaign, but from consumption observed in waves 1 to 3 and registration of waves 4 and 5 plus projection of wave 6, we established that additional 4 million nets are required,” Ms. Sserwanja said in a statement.
Government says that funding for these additional nets has been secured from the Global Fund and Against Malaria Foundation, and orders for manufacturing have since been placed. The nets are expected in the country by October 2017.
“I wish to inform the general public that the disease burden of malaria in Kampala is at pre-elimination levels with a prevalence of less than 1%,” says Dr. Jimmy Opigo, the National Malaria Control Program Manager. “This LLINs mass distribution campaign will enable us to sustain these gains.”
Dr. Jimmy Opigo added that Uganda is doubling efforts to sustain and reduce morbidity and mortality related to Vector Borne diseases in Uganda.
The country is experiencing an influx of refugees whose vulnerability to malaria can have an effect on the prevention interventions in the country. As such MoH have made provisions by introducing the 7th wave within the framework of multi-donor initiatives for refugees. A total of 700,000 bed nets will be distributed under this framework.
State Minister for Primary Health Hon. Dr. Moriku Joyce Kaducu also reaffirms that the focus of this campaign is to chase malaria out of Uganda. “I would like to therefore urge each and every beneficiary household to use this opportunity to chase malaria out of their homes by sleeping under a bed net, seek treatment within 24 hours of noticing a fever and observe general environmental practices.”