Thursday March 19 2015

Malaria cases on the increase - new study

By STEPHEN WANDERA

Kampala. Prevalence of malaria in rural Uganda is on the increase, a new report has revealed, suggesting that more aggressive methods of controlling the disease are urgently needed.
According to a two-year surveillance report published in the online American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, increasing cases of malaria have been registered upcountry despite provision of bed nets and treatment.
The study, led by a team of international scientists, enrolled 755 children from six months to 10 years from 300 homes randomly selected from three areas of Uganda from August 2011 to September 2013. The families were provided with bed nets and had access to 24-hour free medical care.
The study discovered that over the course of the study, health workers handled more than 2,500 cases of malaria.
“While the incidence of infection decreased slightly in the relatively low-transmission peri-urban Walukuba, Jinja Town during the study’s 24 months, it increased in two rural areas,” reads the report in part. “Episodes of malaria per person per year rose from an average of 0.97 to 1.93 in the moderate-transmission area of Kihihi, Kanungu District, and rose from an average of 2.33 to 3.30 in Nagongera, Tororo District, a high-transmission area,” the study adds.
According to the study, Uganda will need to scale up campaigns to distribute insecticide-treated nets and spray homes with insecticide, while also considering new interventions such as using malaria drugs for controlling mosquito larvae.
“Our findings suggest that current efforts at controlling malaria may not be as effective as previously believed in high-transmission areas where the disease is the biggest threat,” said Grant Dorsey, a member of the team and professor of infectious diseases at the University of California.
When contacted, the Ministry of Health spokesperson, Ms Rukia Nakamate, referred the matter to the manager in charge of National Malaria Control Programme, Dr Peter Okui, who could not answer our calls to his mobile phone.

THE BACKGROUND
According to the World Health Organisation, at least 584,000 people, mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa, were estimated to have died of malaria in 2013.

wouma@ug.nationmedia.com

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