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NMS completes distribution of over 28M mosquito nets

FILE PHOTO: Previous recepients of free mosquito nets

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  |  The National Medical Stores-NMS has completed the distribution of 28.4 million long-lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets across the country. 

The nets were distributed to 2,051 sub-counties in the 8 months long campaign. In 2019, the Ministry of Health tasked NMS to handle the procurement, storage and transportation of the mosquito nets because of its capacity to reach the entire country. 

The entire exercise cost Shillings 446.8 billion (US$ 120 Million) provided by the Global Fund and the United States government. The Against Malaria Foundation donated US$ 13 million for the campaign. 

Shaun Walsh, the Program Manager at Against Malaria Foundation, lauded NMS for executing the project in a transparent and efficient manner. He noted that the donor was initially skeptical about the capacity and ability of NMS to deliver the project. 

Dr. Henry Katamba, the Global Fund representative concurred with Walsh, saying that as donors they did not trust the government to execute the campaign.

Health Ministry officials led by the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary and Dr. Jimmy Opigo, the Manager of the malaria control Programme said NMS has proved that the national distribution system is functional and effective. According to Atwine, donors initially expressed several reservations regarding NMS handling the exercise.

She, however, said that she is happy that NMS developed an ICT system that donors and other stakeholders could use to track mosquito nets from their warehouses to sub-county offices and to the recipients at the household level. 

Dr. Opigo says that the donors were skeptical because the previous distribution campaigns held in 2013 and 2017 were conducted by private companies.  21.5 million Nets and 26 million nets were distributed in 2013 and 2017 respectively. 

He says the two campaigns resulted in the reduction of national malaria prevalence from 17percent in 2015 to 9 per cent in 2019.  However, Dr. Opigo says the two campaigns were expensive and burdensome because they involved several people.  

Katamba says donors learnt from the previous campaigns that they were unfit to distribute mosquito nets. He recalled the hurdles donors faced in the previous campaigns, which involved seeking clearance for trucks impounded by police or at weighbridges among others. 

The NMS General Manager, Moses Kamabare says the agency was under immense pressure to deliver and he is happy that all stakeholders including the donors are satisfied.

He says NMS put up systems to cure problems that donors faced in the past such as loss of mosquito nets and poor coordination between distributors and receiving teams. 

For instance, NMS ensured security officers escorted the trucks and the teams also gave advance notice to sub-county leaders and internal auditors among other officials before they set off from NMS warehouses in Entebbe. 

He explains that the donors gave an excess of 400,000 mosquito nets based on their past experiences. They gave NMS 28.8 million nets yet it was supposed to distribute 28.4 million nets.  Kamabare says the excess nets are in NMS warehouses and awaiting a decision from the ministry where to deliver them. 

The next nationwide campaign is expected to take place after two years.



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