Luwero, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | At least 154,493 patients tested positive for malaria in Luwero in the 2020/21 financial year, a report by the District Health Department has revealed. This is out of the 165,999 people who were tested for malaria at various health facilities in the district.
The health department blames the surge in malaria cases on the decline in the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and living in areas that habit the vectors among other factors. According to the report, the district registers 932 cases of malaria per 1000 persons per year, which is above the district target of 198 cases per 1000 persons per year.
The report further shows that the malaria cases increased from 91.8 percent in the past year of 2019/20 to 93.1 percent in 2020/21. Another district performance monitoring and evaluation indicator survey describes the malaria cases as extremely high and recommended proactive measures to curb the situation.
Nusurah Nalwoga, a resident of Kigombe village in Luwero sub-county says that six of her grandchildren contracted malaria disease and many of them are still on malaria treatment.
She explains that she spent over Shillings 120,000 on injectables for each after they failed to respond to treatment by tablets. Nalwoga says that because of high bills, she has resorted to herbal medicine to cut down on medical bills.
Nalwoga says that although they sleep under nets, mosquitoes always bite them around 7 pm before they retire to bed.
Samuel Musisi, a resident of Wabusana village in Kikyusa sub-county says that malaria now takes the largest share of his medical expense because almost every month, one or two children fall sick. Musisi says that the mosquitoes are on the increase due to stagnant water or bushes in their vicinity.
Lydia Biira, another resident has asked the government to increase and ensure a steady supply of the anti-malaria drugs, saying that they are tired of visiting health centres where they are referred to private clinics.
The district report also shows that the number of pregnant women who received mosquito nets during their first antenatal care visit declined from 92.2% in 2019/20 to 62.9% in 2020/21.
Several in charge of health centers also decried shortage of anti-malaria drugs because of the high number of patients diagnosed with the disease. Issa Kawuma, the Luwero District Malaria Focal Person, said the shortage in mosquito nets or anti-malaria drugs is due to intermittent supply but this is being addressed.
Kawuma says that they have intensified the Integrated Community Case Management programme where Village Health Teams are provided with drugs to administer them to children below five years after testing them with Rapid Diagnosis Test kits.
The district didn’t provide figures for those who died as a result of malaria. However, in the financial year 2019/20, the disease claimed 40 people and was listed as the leading killer disease.