In the wee hours of the night on January 9, 2020, Musa Gudoi and his wife Safina Sabano, both residents of Bulago Cell, Namakwekwe Ward in Northern Division in Mbale City hurriedly carried their three months old baby girl and rushed her to Mbale Regional Referral Hospital.
“She had high temperature and shivered with a speedy heartbeat,” Sabano narrated their ordeal.
“I could not imagine losing my baby girl, that is why we braved a distance of one kilometer before getting a boda boda to the hospital,” said Gudoi.
On arrival at the hospital, Gudoi, who was already confused, thought that his baby had passed on because he could not feel her movements any more.
“Luckily, the nurses were on standby, quickly grabbed her and gave her first aid and she returned to life. After that, she was diagnosed and the result we were given is that she had severe malaria,” Sabano added.
Gudoi, his wife together with their three children (two girls and one boy) had abandoned sleeping under the treated mosquito nets, as he confessed, which exposed them to high chances of contracting malaria.
“I have a farm in Bujoloto, so I had taken all the nets there to cover my tomato nursery beds to prevent animals and birds from destroying them,” Gudoi said adding, “We were told that the mosquito nets are given to us by white people who put in poison to slowly kill us so that they can take over our land in the future, that is why I abandoned them.”
After the diagnosis, Sabano says that their baby was treated and healed after a couple of days in the hospital.
“Prevention is better than treatment, I advise all of you to always sleep under mosquito nets so that you do not lose a life in a joking manner like the doctor told us,” she said.
The Gudoi family is among over 300 people, who converged at Namakwekwe Health Centre to get the free long lasting insecticide treated nets. The government distributed these nets as one of the measures of curbing the high raising cases of malaria.
The Northern Division, having slum areas like Kiteso Cell, Bulago, Mission Cell, Mirembe Cell, Kichafu Cell and Buyonjo, all of which are densely populated, places it on high risk of contracting malaria, especially the people with a poor mindset like Gudoi’s about using mosquito nets.
Robert Kabiri, the Chairperson of Kiteso Cell said that the introduction of different health programmes and testimonies from a section of residents have helped in the prevention of the disease.
“Once they understood that some diseases can be prevented by behavioral change, I can assure you that my people are sleeping under the nets,” he noted.
Mbale District remains one of the highest malaria prone areas.
The Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU) Health Centre III recorded 295 cases of Malaria between April and June in 2019. The figures decreased to 172 cases between January and March in 2020.
The decrease in the figure is dedicated to the distribution of the free treated mosquito nets.
The 2018-19 malaria survey indicated that 1,207 households had mosquito nets, in Bugisu Sub region.
On November 4, 2019, Winnie Kakai, a Primary Seven pupil of Bukari Primary School, in Bukibolo Sub County in Bududa District, collapsed and died during a PLE examination.
John Wandera, the father of the deceased said that his daughter was suffering from malaria at the time of her death. “I told her not to go to school but she insisted and went,” he said.
Government, together with external donors; the Government of UK, Global Fund, USAID and Against Malaria Foundation mobilized USD 120m (Shs 447 bn), with an aim of distributing 27 million mosquito nets to Ugandans in 2020.
During the launch of the Distribution at Entebbe, Dr. Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health said that the distribution would be done in a wave format.
The first wave according Dr. Atwine covered 25 districts in Eastern Uganda.
The second wave covered Western Uganda, and the third will cover Kampala and Wakiso areas.
Uganda has recorded a reduction in malaria prevalence from 42% to 9.2%, according to the 2018-19 malaria survey.