Malaria is among the leading causes of deaths in Uganda, killing 14 people each day. The Ministry of Health, in a bid to mitigate the malaria prevalence, launched the ‘Under the Net campaign’ where nets are being distributed to different parts of the country.
The districts with the highest prevalence rate of malaria and those that have been recently affected by floods have been prioritized.
The campaign is intended to reduce the malaria incidence in Uganda through distribution of and creating awareness on the use of mosquito nets to prevent and manage malaria. If you want to protect your home there are a lot more online guides on how to repel mosquitoes
The campaign is being conducted in phases and currently, the second wave has been completed.
This year, 27 million nets are to be distributed to all households all over the country.
The recently concluded wave 2 (Western Region)
Wave 2 of the net distribution started on August 9, 2020 and ended on August 21, 2020.
A total of 28 districts have been covered mainly in Western Uganda and among others, these include; Kyankwanzi, Buhweju, Bundibugyo, Bunyangabo, Bushenyi, Isingiro, Kabarole, Kakumiro. Rukungiri, Kabale, Kiruhura, Kazo and Rubanda.
The nets were distributed to everyone regardless of age.
Anthony Byarugaba, the Malaria Focal Person in Kalangala district said that at least 85% of the population were intended to get the nets.
Mulebwa Joseph, an LC1 chairperson of Buyindi village- Kalangala district said, “I am glad to have received a new Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Mosquito Net. I have been using one which is not treated but now I am sure mosquitoes are going to die with this.”
Rukia Nakamatte, behaviour change communication specialist at the MoH confirmed that the only hindrances that were encountered during the net distribution in wave 2 were expected; such as the poor transport networks, as most areas were so hard to reach.
In some districts, bales of mosquito nets were wheeled to households like in Butema town Council- Kyakwanzi district due to the steep land terrain.
Why the awareness?
The covid-smart campaign limited human to human contact to prevent the spread of covid-19.
The LLIN (Long Lasting Insecticide-treated Nets) are approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health as safe for all categories of people, infants and adults.
It should be noted that children aged under 5 years are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria. In 2018, they accounted for 67% (272 000) of all malaria deaths worldwide.
The Ministry noted that in pregnant women, malaria leads to anaemia, cerebral malaria, preterm deliveries, still births, low birth weight and maternal mortality.
Pregnant women are therefore advised to attend all antenatal care visits and follow malaria preventive measures.
According to Ministry of Health, mosquitoes are likely to increase because of the rains. Therefore, the use of treated mosquito nets is encouraged and thus the timely need for the mosquito nets supply.
Wave 3 – Central Region
The third wave of mosquito net distribution is intended to mainly cover Kampala and Wakiso districts.
The program is expected to begin in October 2020.
For this, the Ministry of Health is urging residents to look out for Village Health Teams, data clerks, local council leaders and ensure that they register and later receive these mosquito nets as this will help to massively eliminate malaria cases.
The Ministry of Health intends to make a few changes targeting a successful campaign.
“The fact that we are coming to urban centres now, we expect to conduct the exercise for quite a longer time, unlike in the other areas where we were doing 4-5 days. We expect to take between 8-10 days depending on the situation,” Nakamatte confirmed.
She also said that in urban areas, most people are busy and this might cause a little bit of delay.
Just like in the concluded wave 2, the Standard Operation Measures will be adhered to during the incoming wave 3 of under the net campaign to prevent the spread of covid-19.
Nakamatte said that the Ministry is working with the police to ensure that people wear masks, wash their hands and social distance during the exercise.
Dr. Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry encourages Ugandans to use the mosquito nets in the right way as their health is entirely their responsibility.
More Efforts geared towards a Malaria Free Uganda
It should be noted that Ministry of Health launched a private sector partnership that will oversee sustainable national malaria response in the country, the ‘Malaria Free Uganda’ (MFU) Board.
The measure was also aimed at providing technical assistance for a sustainable fight, advocacy across sectors and mutual accountability in malaria prevention by the board members.
This targets total malaria eradication by 2030.