Kitgum, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | At least 60 people have died from severe malaria in Kitgum district over the last six months according to data obtained from the district health department. The mortality which was highest among infants below five years reportedly escalated between March and June when the government instituted lockdown measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
This is a five-fold increment in death rates compared to the 13 lives that were lost to malaria during the same period in 2019. It is also the highest record of malaria deaths in the district over the years.
Records show that a total of 68,959 patients tested positive for malaria through Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) and microscopy tests, out of 110,443 suspected fevers tested between January and June this year. Still the prevalence was highest during the COVID-19 lockdown period with 50,878 positive cases recorded.
At Kitgum General Hospital alone, one of the largest government health facilities, a total of 2,436 patients tested positive for malaria out of 5,145 that visited the facility with symptoms of fever. Kitgum General Referral Hospital serves as a referral hospital for smaller health facilities in East Acholi with clients also sometimes coming from as far as neighbouring South Sudan.
A health worker who declined to be named told URN in an interview that most of the cases registered at the facility were among children and expectant mothers. The deaths were reported in Namokora health center IV, Mucwini health centre III and Kitgum general hospital according to weekly malaria status update produced by National Malaria Control Division.
Kitgum district malaria focal point officer John Bosco Komakech says that the high positivity cases are due to the intermittent rains that gave breeding space for mosquitoes.
Komakech says that a few patients and parents of children suffering from malaria take fast initiatives in getting medical treatment, a case he says sometimes graduates to severe malaria resulting in fatalities. He notes that despite the surge in cases, the district responded swiftly on the training of Village Health Teams on integrated clinical case management of malaria.
But Kitgum district health officer Dr Alex Olwedo says that he wasn’t aware of the malaria statistics in the district.
Across the country, a total of 206,138 malaria cases were reported between July 13 to 19, according to weekly malaria status update produced by the Health Ministry’s National Malaria Control Division. The report also showed a surge in malaria cases in the districts of Abim, Agago, Amudat, Bugweri, Buyende, Isingiro, Kalangala, Kotido, Moroto, Nabilatuk, Nakapiripirit and Yumbe.