The rainy season being experienced in several parts of the country has caused an increase of malaria, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the health minister has said.
Dr Aceng said in a Wednesday statement that the upsurge started in June.
She said that the malaria upsurge has affected half of the country with approximately 65 districts affected.
“This is due to the rainy season that the country is currently experiencing where the cases of malaria are gradually increasing from the baseline seasonal peak usually experienced following a rainy season,” Dr Aceng said.
She said the cases of malaria have increased by over 400,000 cases when compared with 2018 and 2019 from about 1 million cases in June 2018 to 1.4 million in June 2019, which is a 40 per cent.
However, Dr Aceng said that cases are still low compared to 2017 and 2016 in the same period.
The most affected region by the current upsurge are; West Nile, Acholi, Lango (except in Dokolo, Alebtong, Lira and Otuke where Indoor Residual Spraying is ongoing). Bunyori region and Bunyoro region.
In eastern Uganda (including Busoga region), the affected districts are Namisindwa, Busia, Bulabuli, Mbale, Sironko and Manafwa district.
In Buganda region; Kyotera, Butambala, Kalangala, Luweero, Kampala, Kayunga, Buikwe, Rakai, Kyankwanzi, Mubende and Nakasongola districts are the most affected.
Other affected regions are; Karamoja, Teso (Soroti, Kumi, Amuria), in the eastern region.
In western Uganda, several areas of Bunyoro region are affected as well as the districts of Kamwenge, Kisoro and Kanungu.
Dr Aceng said that major gains have been made in the national malaria response over the last decade with malaria prevalence dropping from 42 per cent in 2009 to 19 percent in 2014 and now to nine percent in 2019.
She said that annual malaria deaths dropped by 57 percent from 30 to 13 deaths out of 100,000 people
She said that reported malaria deaths dropped from 6,100 in 2015 to 5,800 in 2016, to 5,100 in 2017and to 3,000 in 2018.
A trend of drop of malaria cases have followed the same trend over the years.
Causes of the increase explained
• Seasonality: The most number of Malaria cases occur during the period of June- July due to the rainy season
• Climate change: Prolonged intermittent rains in various parts of the country that have lasted till to date (August 2019)
• Reduced net ownership and use due to the aging of nets distributed in 2017/18 mass Long Lasting Insecticide treated mosquito Nets campaign
• Low malaria prevalence in areas such as Kampala – and this has led to laxity in the population’s prevention practices such as sleeping under a mosquito net, closing doors and windows early, early seeking of care and treatment.
• Population growth and refugee immigration in specific regions
• Movement of populations from high burden areas (Busoga, West Nile, Northern Uganda, Karamoja) to low burden areas (Kampala, South Western Uganda) and vice versa for festive season, employment like farming. This was supported by evidence received from Naguru Hospital in July 2019 where 85 percent of the malaria patients had travel history outside Kampala.
The health minister said people in areas with low malaria such as Kampala and Kigezi region (parasite prevalence less than 1%) are prone to severe malaria due to reduced/low immunity.
The minister advised that people should sleep under a mosquito net every night to avoid malaria and always seek early treatment from the nearest health facility within 24 hours of onset of symptoms.
She said patients must take and complete their dosage of malaria medicine as advised by health workers and void self-medication and sharing of medicine.