Minister wants govt to give malaria same attention as Ebola, Covid-19

State Minister for Health in-charge of Primary Health Care, Margaret Muhanga. PHOTO/FILE

The State Minister for Health in-charge of Primary Health Care, Ms Margaret Muhanga, has stressed the need for government, development partners and the community to accord malaria prevention the same urgency and attention given to pandemics such as Ebola and Covid-19, saying the former kills more people than any other disease.

“We must do something about it. Malaria kills more people than any other disease. Even during the Covid-19 outbreak, malaria was killing more people than Covid but because we have made malaria a “normal abnormal”, no one cares, but when someone catches Ebola or Covid, everyone acts because they feel threatened,” Ms Muhanga said.

Addressing participants at a malaria conference organised by the Ministry of Health in Kampala yesterday, Ms Muhanga said malaria prevention should be given the attention it deserves to enable Uganda hit the target of eradicating the disease by 2030.

The Health ministry says it records between 12 and 14 malaria-related deaths every day, although many deaths, especially those that occur in the community, go unreported.

An estimated 250, 000 malaria cases are reported in the country on a weekly basis.

The ministry also says the country experienced a surge in reported malaria cases, increasing from 792,847 cases in September 2021 to 1,445,172 in October.

Ms Muhanga also noted that resistance to prevention measures such as indoor residual spraying by some environmentalists, and failure by the community to respect measures such as sleeping under treated mosquito nets, closing windows and doors early enough, and clearing bushy areas and stagnant water that act as breeding areas for mosquitoes, were also responsible for a surge in malaria cases.

She, however, said the government was doing its best to fight malaria with the available resources.
“We have distributed mosquito nets to every household, especially those with pregnant mothers and children.

In May, we raised the red flag that malaria cases were increasing and we needed to do something,” Ms Muhanga said.

Dr Jimmy Opigo, the assistant commissioner for National Malaria Control Division in the Ministry of Health, said malaria cases have also persisted due to biological challenges such as the human body’s resistance to anti-malarials and chemicals used to treat mosquito nets.

Dr Opigo also noted that the mosquitoes’ behaviour and composition was also contributing to the surge.

“More mosquitoes now bite us from outside the house yet we target inside the house. We need to strategise and use outdoor interventions to complement the door measures,” he said.

He, however, revealed that there had been a reduction in reported proportion of children dying in hospitals due to malaria from 1.4 percent of admissions in 2020 to 0.7 percent this year.

He also noted that the government was holding discussions with experts to help the country deal with malaria and also mobilise fund for the cause.

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