Malaria kills nearly 6,000 people in Uganda every year. This equates to nearly 500 people a month and nearly 20 a day. These are not just statistics, but Ugandans dying from a preventable and curable disease. 3.3 billion people worldwide are at risk. This life-threatening disease, caused by parasites transmitted to people through mosquito bites, is responsible for 30 to 60 percent of outpatient care and 40 percent of missed school days in the country.
This December is a month for disease prevention and treatment on the Rotary calendar. This is one of the six main focuses of Rotary. The other areas include water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, peace and conflict prevention / resolution, and economic and community development. However, sickness and sickness have a significant impact on any economy due to decreased productivity, lower school attendance and lower achievement, as well as lower foreign investment and other negative effects.
As Rotarians, all efforts to help people lead healthy lives are always commendable, and I would like to commend the efforts of the Department of Health, with support from development partners and National Medical Stores (NMS), who devised and carried out the long-running insecticide The Nets campaign “(LLINS) to distribute 27 million nets to Ugandans, dubbed” Going Under the Net “, is an important effort to reduce malaria disease, serious illness and deaths.
From the information available, it appears that the LLINS campaign is in the fourth wave of the planned six waves, which has been largely successful compared to previous net sales campaigns in Uganda as this time MOH chose to use National Medical Stores storage- and distribution networks are distributed and properly organized across the country.
Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs) are one of the most effective ways to prevent malaria in malaria-prone areas. The insecticides used to treat mosquito nets not only kill mosquitoes, they also repel them. This reduces the number of such mosquitoes that invade homes to feed on people and infect them with malaria.
Also, when proper community coverage of the nets is achieved, the number of mosquitoes will be reduced and their lifespan shortened. This should help keep family members and the community safe, whether or not they are using a bed net. Malaria remains a leading cause of illness and death in Uganda. Most of the country’s 45 million people are at risk, and malaria accounts for between a third and half of all outpatient consultations. The information available also suggests that Uganda recorded the second largest reduction in malaria cases (1.5 million) between 2017 and 2018, but still the third highest contribution to malaria cases and the seventh highest contribution to malaria according to the WHO’s 2019 World Malaria Report -Deaths. Therefore every effort must be made to ensure that malaria deaths are reduced, especially in children under five who are most susceptible to malaria infections as they have not yet developed immunity to the disease, as well as in pregnant mothers, those that do carry significant risks to the mother and unborn child, including maternal anemia, stillbirth, miscarriage, and low birth weight – a leading cause of infant mortality.
What remains after the nets are distributed are the district managers who enact statutes on the abuse of mosquito nets and run awareness campaigns on how to dispose of the used nets to ensure they don’t contaminate the environment. Environmental agencies such as the National Environmental Authority and others should join in to advise LLINS recipients not to dispose of old LLINs in any body of water, as the remaining insecticide in the net can be toxic to aquatic organisms, especially fish, disposal methods such as open air incineration or use as fishing equipment, garden fence, etc.
Mr. Tumwijukye is a Rotarian from RC Ntinda and a senior.