Wednesday March 14 2018

Districts save billions in malaria campaign

A woman helps a baby to sleep under a mosq

A woman helps a baby to sleep under a mosquitor net. The money from the US will help Ugandans access more mosquito nets. Net photo    

By Lilian Namagembe

Kampala- The government move to grant districts the mandate to manage indoor residual spraying (IRS) exercise intended to get rid of malaria has saved government billions of shillings as opposed to implementation of the exercise through partners, officials have revealed.

Ministry of Health in 2016 undertook IRS that involves the application of a long-lasting residual insecticide to potential malaria vector resting surfaces such as internal walls, eaves and ceilings of all houses or structures in 10 districts of the northern region as part of efforts to eliminate malaria in the country.

Mr Moses Ogwang, the Kole assistant district health officer, said in the 2016/2017 financial year when IRS was for the first time put under local government management, the district spent Shs300m on the entire exercise compared to the Shs1billion it previously used when it was implemented through partners.

“For all these years, human resource capacity has been built in the implementation of IRS in Uganda. We have had a one round of district led IRS in most of the districts. We registered minimum costs compared to IRS operational budget run by the partners,” Mr Ogwang said.

Oyam District used Shs190m compared to the previous Shs800m under partners; through saving direct costs of paying allowances and salaries of field officers, costs of vehicle hires, costs of hiring premises while other estimated costs would be halved.

Mr Ogwang made the remarks at the recent national stakeholders meeting on scalling-up of indoor residual spraying in Uganda to facilitate the formation of a coalition which will influence policy and practice geared at eliminating malaria in Uganda.

Aimed at stimulating the campaign to eliminate malaria in the country, the meeting was organised by the Uganda National Health Users/Consumers Organisation (UNHCO) and Makerere University School of Public Health under the Supporting Policy Engagement for Evidence-based Decisions project.

Other districts that benefitted from the about $9m(about Shs32b) funding from the government of Uganda, USAID / Presidents Malaria Initiative and DFID, include Kitgum, Amuru, Adaku, Apac, Gulu, Kole, Lamwo, Nwoya, Oyam and Pader

Other districts
The other districts which also registered lower costs of IRS were selected based on the malaria burden, giving priority to those with highest prevalence rates.

When contacted, top managers at Abt Associates Inc, an organisation which was implementing IRS in northern Uganda, were hesitant to comment their but regarded the findings as allegation, referring this newspaper to the Ministry of Health for a comment.

Dr Jimmy Opigo, the programme manager of the National Malarial Control programme at the Ministry of Health, cheered the findings as those that will enable government to enroll IRS across the country.

“It is well known to be effective; scientists agree, the president agrees, so do the politicians. There have been excuses of costs but today, we are here to demonstrate that we can manage to use it at a lower cost to cover other areas,” Dr Opigo said.

Ms Robinah Kaitiritimba, the executive director of Uganda National Health Consumers’ Organisation (UNHCO), said the preventive campaign strategy against Malaria, has to be intensified if families are to be relieved from the health financial burden.