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Ministry of health investigates mutation of malaria parasites

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Ministry of Health has preferred to conduct a scientific study on the possible mutation of malaria-causing parasites because of the persistent rise in malaria incidents and deaths recorded across the country.

Dr. Richard Kabanda, the Commissioner in charge of Health Promotion, Education, and Communication at the Ministry of Health, says that they are concerned about the rebound of the malaria epidemic despite the various preventive measures the country has previously rolled out, including the distribution of free insecticide-treated mosquito nets.

Speaking to Uganda Radio Network at the sidelines of the Masaka Diocesan Health Assembly on Saturday, Dr. Kabanda said that their surveillance teams have noted an unprecedented general increase in the number of people reporting severe forms of malaria across the country.

According to Dr. Kabanda, on a daily average, the country is losing over 30 people to malaria and registers a sharp increase in the number of admissions at the various facilities, where the patients are presenting with high resistance to the prescribed medications.

He says that besides public complacency, which could be one of the causes of the increase in malaria incidents, the situation also raises suspicion of a possible mutation of malaria-causing parasites.

In the meantime, Dr. Kabanda says the ministry has instructed all healthcare service providers to refocus much of their energies towards fighting malaria through vigorous public sensitization and retooling health workers.

He explains that for the last three years, the majority of healthcare service providers have dedicated much of their concentration to the Covid-19 pandemic and other virulent diseases, but neglecting those with even high mortality rates.

Between 2014-2019, the Ministry of Health posted a decrease in malaria cases in the country, an achievement that was partly attributed to the free mosquito nets distribution campaign and the use of other preventive mechanisms.

Reverend Father Emmanuel Katabaazi, the Masaka diocesan health coordinator also confirms that their health facilities are faced with a heavy malaria case burden, a situation that requires concerted efforts to address the growing public complacency towards the disease and available prevention measures.

On the other hand, Fr. Katabaazi indicates that over time, they have registered a substantial increase in the number of mothers who deliver from health facilities, hence reducing the risks of maternal mortality and mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

According to the diocese’s heath performance report, a total of 7,631 mothers delivered in their health facilities in 2021, up from 6,333 deliveries in 2020 and 6,631 in 2019. The diocese has 33 health facilities where deliveries can be conducted.

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