42% of Ugandans Have Malaria

42 percent of Ugandans are host to the malaria parasite even though they do not show any signs of sickness.

Dr Okul Albert Peter, the Malaria Control Programme Manager Ministry of Health, says during the 2009 malaria indicator survey, tests showed that children under five years ranged from five percent in Kampala to 63 percent in the Northern region.

He explains that this is because Uganda has a high prevalence to malaria and in order for a person to fall sick they need to have a high level of parasitamia. Even though there are many other causes of fever such as flu, pneumonia and meningitis among others, there is need for mass screening, testing and treatment.

Dr Okul adds that after treatment, getting rid of malaria would also call for confinement of people in a treated area to avoid reinfections in areas that have not got treatment. However, during mass treatment, there is a tendency to use a drug that has been over used which risks resistance and that is why it is discouraged In Uganda.

Dr Okul advises that those found with simple malaria should use artemisinin based combination therapy such as coatem. Patients with complicated malaria which develops danger signs should use intravenous artesunate instead of intravenous quinine.

Transmission of malaria is high in 95 percent of the country. Five percent of highland areas have low malaria transmission but in case of occurrence, it develops as an epidemic. Malaria cases are highest in parts of Eastern Uganda such as Tororo, Busia, parts of Mbale and areas at the shore of Lake Kyoga.

The Ministry of Health is now emphasizing the use of a multi-pronged approach to dent malaria in Uganda. Dr Ruth Jane Aceng the Director General Health services lists mosquito nets, indoor residual spraying whose effect has been dramatic especially in Northern Uganda though it is costly.

Ruhakana Rugunda, the Minister for Health, adds that government has continued with its distribution of 21 million mosquito nets throughout the country. This is with hope that there will be a 19 percent reduction in child mortality and 40-60 percent in infection.

So far only Soroti and Busia districts have received the mosquito nets. Distribution of the nets in the remaining 30 districts in Eastern Uganda will start in July and end in August. The roll out plan was based in the disease burden with Eastern Uganda having the highest malaria infections while Northern Uganda has the lowest due to the indoor residual spraying.

Meanwhile distribution for Central region districts excluding Kampala will start in September and end in October. Western region, Wakiso and Kampala shall get their nets in November. Districts in Northern Uganda shall have their nets in January 2014 and end in February.

This is the second time that government is distributing the nets with the first being in 2010 under the Global Fund round seven Malaria Grant targeting children under five and pregnant women.

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