Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A new campaign to curb malaria infections has been unveiled to help citizens protect themselves at the time when all public health efforts are going into halting transmission of coronavirus– COVID-19.
The campaign is a brainchild of the Rotarian Malaria Partners Uganda, an umbrella working to eliminate malaria in Uganda. According to the World Health Organization, a child dies of malaria every two minutes with more than 200 million new cases of the disease reported every year majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
With close to 15 million infections every year, Uganda ranks eighth in the number of malaria infections among sub-African countries with the highest reported malaria transmission rates in the world. A recent Uganda malaria indicator survey showed that malaria kills more than 100 people in Uganda per day, making the disease the leading cause of illness and deaths in the country. Most of these are children under five years and pregnant women.
Kenneth Wycliffe Mugisha, the chairman for the Rotarian Malaria Partners observes that despite the bigger threat that malaria presents and while the whole world is focused on COVID-19, little attention was being paid to malaria control efforts yet the number of people falling sick with malaria is going up with the onset of rains.
According to the weekly malaria surveillance report released last week, over 15 districts were already reporting high numbers of over 2000 cases of confirmed malaria cases reported to health facilities with districts in just one week. Isingiro which recorded the highest cases had 4,426 infections followed by Yumbe with 3,929 cases. These cases could only be a few of those that managed to make it to the hospital amidst a lockdown of public transport by President Yoweri Museveni.
Mugisha says that the new the campaign intends to have more aggressive messages reminding the public of the need to protect themselves against malaria causing mosquitoes.
The messages are targeting areas with a high prevalence of malaria and those in Buganda to cater for people living on the shores of Lake Victoria that currently face a challenge of stagnant water arising from the floods and are breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Mugisha, a former Governor of the Rotary District 9211 comprising Uganda and Tanzania says that ensuring that very simple messages that are not money intensive and technical reach the intended person deep down in the villages can make a difference in changing the grim malaria picture.
Rotary has contributed over a billion Shillings to the National COVID -19 task force to secure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health workers. However, part of the funds Mugisha says will go into efforts to create more awareness going by the mantra that while there’s a total lockdown, there is no lockdown on malaria-causing mosquitoes.
Malaria Control Programme Manager at MOH Dr Jimmy Opigo told URN last week that this years’ mosquito net mass distribution campaign had been halted as all efforts were now into COVID-19. But Rotarians have now offered to distribute the nets by funding transportation and delivery. COVID-19 has not yet claimed a life in Uganda.