What would happen if five buses carrying 60 passengers crashed every day killing all the people on board? Malaria may be no accident but it claims the same number of Ugandans, killing 200-300 people per day – the majority of them children.
What would happen if five buses carrying 60 passengers crashed every day killing all the people on board?
Would there not be a national outcry? Would parliament not possibly be called from recess to discuss this crisis?
Malaria may be no accident but it claims the same number of Ugandans, killing 200-300 people per day – the majority of them children. Yet like most accidents, most malaria deaths can be prevented if prompt and appropriate action is taken.
Last month, Ugandan President Museveni launched a project to distribute 21 million long-lasting insecticide-treated nets with the theme: “Double your efforts today; defeat malaria tomorrow.”
The initiative follows a 2007 World Health Organisation recommendation calling for universal coverage of populations at risk of malaria, with at least one net for every two people in the country.
“Our target is to get rid of the mosquitoes by using agents that have no problem with environment and human beings,” Museveni said. “We are now using bed nets to prevent mosquitoes from biting people and also to kill the mosquitoes.”
The president added that other methods of fighting malaria, like indoor residual spraying and killing larva would be employed. Officials say that 15.5 million nets were procured with funding from The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; five million were funded by the United Kingdom and the US presidential Malaria Initiative, while World Vision funded the procurement of 500,000 nets.
Distributing malaria nets
“The distribution will be done by the government system including the army, what I don’t want to hear is theft of any net. In the army, we don’t steal,” Museveni said.
Christine Ondoa, minister of health, said the mosquito net distribution was aimed at reducing malaria deaths and illness by 70% by the year 2015.
“If we use the nets properly and immunise children, we shall reduce all deaths. We shall reduce congestion at hospitals because people will be healthy,” she said.
Saving children’s lives
Ondoa added that all the nets had been tested and found to be safe. The director general of health services at the health ministry, Dr Ruth Aceng, said: “Mosquito nets will help reduce death among children under the age of five by about 20%, as well as reducing malaria illness among children under five years and pregnant mothers by up to 50%.”
The 21 million nets are in addition to the 7.2 million nets that were distributed in 2010 under the Global Fund round seven grant which targeted mainly children under the age of five and pregnant women. In Uganda, around 1.4 million people are living with HIV and the programme is particularly important as people living with AIDS have a higher risk of recurrent malaria episodes and severe malaria.
Mark Eldon-Edington, head of the grant management division at the Global Fund, said: “This campaign will allow Uganda to reach the ambitious goal of decreasing malaria-related deaths. Our partnership, strong results and effective stewardship of the resources, will provide the confidence to donors and recipients to continue to support the Global Fund in this replenishment year.”