IIt’s a busy time at the Ministry of Health. While one team is knocking on doors to hand out cloth masks against Covid-19, another team will cross the country handing out mosquito nets.
Starting with the districts of Eastern Uganda and parts of the Lango sub-region, the ministry has started door-to-door distribution of mosquito nets.
While in the last campaign the beneficiaries were asked to get the nets from certain municipal council stations, this time the ministry is running a “Covid-Smart” campaign, which is to observe social distancing, digital means of data collection and all personal Protective equipment is used for the officers who distribute the nets.
The country remains partially locked as Covid-19 cases rise to over 800, but with no death. With support from the Global Fund, USAID and the UK government, the mosquito nets are expected to reach at least 40 million people in the country, according to Rukia Nakamatte, the social behavior change communications specialist for the National Malaria Control Program.
While Covid-19 continues to challenge the health system and economy, malaria remains the country’s biggest killer, Secretary of State Diana Atwine said during the Zoom media awareness meeting last Saturday to discuss the start of the exercise.
The ministry reported an increase in malaria cases last year, despite the country’s progress in controlling the disease caused by the female Anopheles mosquito over the past 10 years.
Malaria is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Uganda, accounting for 30 to 50 percent of outpatient visits to healthcare facilities, 15 to 20 percent of hospital admissions and 20 percent of hospital deaths, according to the National Malaria Control Program.
Uganda also has the sixth highest number of malaria deaths in Africa. In 2013 alone, 10,500 deaths were reported.
During an intensive mass campaign against malaria (MAAM), morbidity and mortality rates fell from 2013 to 2019, when morbidity rose by 40 percent. The ministry attributed the increase to an influx of refugees, persistent rainfall and poor use of mosquito nets.
“From the last malaria survey we carried out [2017/18]About 30 percent of the nets we issued were not used effectively, ”said Nakamatte on Saturday.
In 2017, the ministry distributed around 24 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets, and that number increases to 27 million this year, giving each household a mosquito net for every two people.
In a country where mosquito nets have historically been used as curtains, chicken coops, garden borders, or simply for storage, Dr. Jimmy Opigo, Deputy Commissioner of the National Malaria Control Program, said the current campaign is being called “Under The Net”. This is intended to encourage both dissemination and use.
The distribution will take place between July 10th and 20th.