Uganda commemorates World Malaria Day amid COVID-19 pandemic

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 As the world commemorated World Malaria Day on Sunday, dozens of riders in Uganda, including young and old, rode over 30 km to raise awareness against the disease.

The commemorations were held under the theme, “Domestic financing for Malaria – The time is now.”

The theme according to ministry of health aims at echoing the call for an increase in domestic financing for Malaria control in the face of the reducing donor funding.
Ruth Aceng, minister of health, flagged of the event, saying that the country was making effort to fight the disease. “The sky will be the limit. Soon malaria will be gone from Uganda.
It is not easy but every step counts,” Aceng said. She said during the period under COVID-19, government had distributed 28 million mosquito nets to Ugandans.
“I request all of us to keep on speaking about sleeping under an insecticide-treated mosquito net,” she added.
“Try as much as possible to ensure that there is not stagnant water around your home, clear the bushes and close all the windows before you sleep,” she added.

Under the free mosquito net distribution, the ministry targets to have all citizens sleep under a mosquito net every night to prevent malaria.

Other interventions that the country has put in place to fight malaria include indoor residual spraying, larval source management, strengthening health worker capacities for malaria diagnosis and treatment as well as strengthening the management of malaria in pregnancy. The country has also set up Village Health Teams (VHT) which have been trained to manage children under five years of age with complicated and uncomplicated malaria.
“VHTs can give Rectal Artesunate to children with severe malaria and refer them to health facilities in a timely manner,” the ministry said.
These efforts, according to the ministry, have started yielding positive results. The country has recorded a reduction in malaria prevalence, according to the Malaria Indicator Survey 2018/2019.

MALARIA BURDEN

According to Minister Aceng, malaria continues to be a burden to households and the country.
The disease is responsible for 30 to 40 percent of outpatient hospital visits, 15 to 20 percent of admissions and 10 percent of inpatient deaths, mostly pregnant mothers and children, according to the health ministry figures.
The disease remains a serious health problem that continues to stagnate economic growth and social development as man-hours are lost because of absenteeism and the meager household incomes spent on treatment.

The country last year warned that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is likely to reverse gains made in the fight against malaria.

External donors, according to the ministry, fund over 95 percent of the fight against the disease in the country.
The country is now looking at domestic resourcing in view of the global uncertainties like the COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting foreign financing.
Uganda in September last year launched the board of directors of the Malaria Free Uganda Fund in efforts to look at domestic financing.
Malaria Free Uganda Fund is a nonprofit public-private partnership established to mainstream responsibility for malaria across all sectors and help remove financial and operational bottlenecks in fighting the disease.
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