By James Odong
The Ministry of Health (MOH) is set to distribute 27,270,933 Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets(LLINs) to all Ugandans. The nets are a donation from the Global Fund (GF), The President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), UNITAID and Against Malaria Foundation (AMF).
These consignments have been received by National Medical Stores(NMS) on behalf of the Ministry of Health and will be distributed free of charge by NMS.
There have been several complaints that some communities received hard and rough mosquito nets during the previous campaign. Please note that during the upcoming #NetCampaign2020, NMS will distribute only long lasting, durable, soft and smooth mosquito nets.
Please ensure that you register with your LCI and Village Health Team(VHT) to receive your mosquito net.
Malaria is endemic in approximately 95% of Uganda and continues to be a leading killer disease. According to the Ministry of Health there was an upsurge across the country realized in June, 2019 due to a prolonged rainy season, raising malaria incidences by over 400,000 cases with a 40% increase from 1 million cases in 2018. The malaria rise has since affected almost half of the country with approximately 65 districts being affected and mostly those in the high burden regions of Busoga, Teso, West Nile, Northern Uganda and Karamoja sub regions. Seasonally, most numbers of malaria cases occur during the period of June – July due to rainy season.
In addition, most families have been rendered vulnerable to climate change effects, arising from the unpredictable rainy spells that have at times stretched beyond the periods thus posing likelihood of malaria incidences throughout the year.
At least 27.7% of inpatient deaths among children below five years of age have also been attributed to malaria.
As part of the efforts to control malaria, the Government and Development partners have been giving out free mosquito treated nets to all households across the country in order to reduce malaria prevalence.
More to that – approaches to mitigate the malaria public health concern have not fully utilized the family-based health promotion model and there is still a challenge in homesteads that continue grappling with increased incidences of malaria and other illnesses claiming lives of both children and adults. This is because there is limited access to education and information as well as community sensitization at family levels about practices that have undermined proper use of mosquito nets, environmental care and hygiene in respective communities which increases community vulnerability to malaria.
Efforts have been made by both the Government and some Development Partners to facilitate communities in embracing behavioral change and good malaria control practices; however, there are identified gaps that need to be addressed in building community capacities and to empower them to become resilient in coping with major health challenges especially the malaria epidemic.
Some Ugandans are unable to buy new and treated mosquito-net to replace aging ones acquired free of charge. There are also wrongly held beliefs among the population that a mosquito net is not worth spending valuable time on to repair for reuse and many people have preferred continuing to sleep under torn mosquito-nets even when they are in bad shape.
There is rampant negligence, though, towards proper use and maintenance of the mosquito-nets with many of the nets not staying for the expected period. Cases of some community members using mosquito nets for catching white ants, fish, keeping chicks among others are common.
Many of the mosquito nets begin to wear out too soon, developing holes that mosquitoes exploit to invade their victims during sleep. This unchecked abuse of mosquito nets has partly been responsible for spiraling of the malaria cases and deaths.
It is our responsibility as Ugandans to ensure that these mosquito nets are properly used so as to prevent Malaria.
The Writer is the Public Relations Officer,
National Medical Stores(NMS).