The government of Uganda has put in place measures to reduce the malaria prevalence in the country, the most current being the distribution of Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) to every household across the various regions of Uganda.
The Ministry of Health embarked on distributing Long-Lasting Insecticidal Treated Nets through a massive campaign; the ‘Under the Net’ campaign, intended to promote net usage among the people in a bid to end malaria in Uganda.
Sleeping under treated mosquito nets is proved to be one of the most effective ways to prevent malaria as per study statistics done by scientists.
A malaria journal of 2019 by Musiime et al. Malar J noted that remarkable progress in malaria control over the last decade has been attributed to the massive deployment of malaria control interventions including long lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS).
Local leaders’ role in the Net distribution exercise
The Ministry of Health in collaboration with community local leaders has so far completed two phases of the net distribution and is gearing up for the third wave, aimed at covering the districts which have been faced with heavy rains and floods that pose a big risk for massive mosquito breeding.
We reached out to a local leader in to analyse the process of acquiring a mosquito net and the role of the leaders in sensitizing and delivering the nets to the beneficiaries.
Amina Namagembe is the woman chairperson LC 3 of Bwaise 2 in Kawempe division. She noted that there is a procedure that is followed in distributing and receiving the treated mosquito nets.
“The nets are brought so that every parish gets theirs. Then the chairpersons are called to collect nets for their specific villages. However, the people are registered earlier enough before the nets are distributed,” she said.
As chairpersons, it is their role to mobilise the people to register each person in their households. This also involves sensitising them about the proper usage and the benefits of sleeping under the mosquito nets.
Village Health Workers also work with the local leaders to ensure that the exercise runs smoothly.
Once chairpersons are present at every zone to receive the nets, they ensure that their zone is given the right number to cover each household.
“People are registered prior to this so that the total number of nets that every zone is required to receive is well known,” she said.
Unlike this year, she said that in the past years, a certain group of people were prioritized, including children under 5 years of age and pregnant women because they are more vulnerable to being affected by the disease.
This year, however, nets are being distributed to all Ugandans, regardless of their age.
Ms Namagembe explained that the common challenges include people being absent when the nets are being distributed which requires the leaders or village health staff to make another trip.
“In incidents where by mosquito nets were only served to households with children under 5 years of age and pregnant women, we would face challenges as all people wanted to have a share of the nets. Convincing them was hard,” Namagembe said.
Preventing malaria in a water-logged area
Ms Namagembe encouraged the people of Bwaise, an area known to experience flooding, to prioritise good sanitation around their homes.
“People should ensure that they drain all the stagnant water around their homes because this is a breeding place for mosquitoes. Those who still have their mosquito nets should take care of them and use them appropriately as they await the new nets that shall be distributed by the government,” she echoed.
She also said that the malaria prevalence among the people of Bwaise has reduced as few cases have been recorded.
“In my area, I have not heard of serious malaria cases or deaths; except the normal sickness,” she confirmed.