PS Atwine warns leaders against sabotaging indoor spray programme

The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Dr Diana Atwine, launches larvicides as an alternative in the fight against malaria at Namutumba District headquarters. PHOTO | YAHUDU KITUNZI

What you need to know:

  • Dr Atwine asked religious leaders to sensitise communities in their respective areas on the importance of IRS in the fight against malaria.

The Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary (PS), Dr Diana Atwine, has warned leaders against sabotaging the indoor residual spraying (IRS) programme, a control intervention aimed at reducing the spread of malaria.

“Some leaders want to fight this programme of the IRS by spreading a rumor that after spraying in the house, the drugs cause jiggers and bed bugs, which is not true,” Dr Atwine said.

She explained that the drugs used in the spraying have been scientifically proven to be good in killing mosquitoes any time the vectors enter the house.

Dr Atwine asked religious leaders to sensitise communities in their respective areas on the importance of IRS in the fight against malaria.

“It’s better for people to embrace the programme so as to combat the high malaria prevalence, which has remained a killer disease,” Dr Atwine said.

Dr Atwine made the remarks during the launch of larviciding at Namutumba District headquarters yesterday.

Larviciding is the regular application of microbial or chemical insecticides to water bodies to reduce the adult population of mosquitoes by killing the aquatic immature forms, so that fewer develop into adults.

The warning follows a December 22, 2022, decision by Kibuku District Council to stop the IRS programme on account of its supposed failure to reduce malaria cases. Several people in the district refused to have their homes sprayed.

Dr Atwine said Kibuku and Namutumba are prone to Malaria because they are surrounded by rivers and swamps.

However, Mr Bashir Mukisa, the Kibuku District secretary for social works, said the IRS has failed to work.

“The programme has been running for the last eight years but it hasn’t made any impact. Instead, we’re witnessing increasing malarial cases in the district,” he said.

Mr Mukisa advised the Health ministry to instead put efforts in alternatives such as distribution of mosquito nets. But Dr Atwine insisted that mosquito nets alone cannot solve malaria upsurge.

“The statistics from Kibuku District show that many children are dying of malaria.  After all that outcry, the local leaders are adamant to address the problem and they think that only sleeping in mosquito nets will help it,” Dr Atwine said.

She added that malaria has persisted for a long time because of failure by the locals and leaders to embrace government interventions.

“People who are refusing cannot hold the lives of the entire district at ransom. This is a government programme. To deny people the services when we have the solution is treasonable,” she said.

Dr Godfrey Buyinza, the Kibuku District Health Officer, said they register between five and seven children who die of malaria every day.

“The blood shortage has exacerbated matters with the district receiving between 35 and 50 units of blood per week, which is not adequate to address the district’s high blood transfusion rate,” Dr Buyinza, said.

The Namutumba District Health Officer, Dr James Kiirya, said they registered about 95,348 cases of malaria between July 2022 and January 2023.

“We lack malaria commodities such as RDTs and anti-malarials. Few facilities are providing comprehensive healthcare in the district,” Dr Kiirya said.