What you need to know:
- Malaria was the most prevalent and death-causing illness accounting for 39.5 percent of hospital admissions; and 10.9 percent of mortality in the FY 2020/2021, which, the report read further, is attributed to increased rainfall and flooding.
Malaria is one of the most prevalent and life-threatening diseases that has ravaged the health and lives of millions in Sub-Saharan African (SSA), especially children and pregnant women.
The vector that transmits disease-causing parasites of malaria flourishes in the moisture-rich tropical and sub-tropical climatic conditions of SSA. The statistics are startling.
According to World Health Organisation, six countries accounted for more than half of the global malaria caseload in 2018: Nigeria, DRC, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Mozambique and Niger.
Uganda has the third-highest global caseload of malaria (5 percent), and the eighth-highest level of death cases (3 percent).
Grim as these global statistics are, they did not hit hard till I perused through the Annual Health Sector Performance Report 2020/21 released by Ministry of Health last week.
Malaria was the most prevalent and death-causing illness accounting for 39.5 percent of hospital admissions; and 10.9 percent of mortality in the FY 2020/2021, which, the report read further, is attributed to increased rainfall and flooding.
I interested myself with this situation. That a preventable and treatable disease such as malaria has remained a monster-killer is an issue that should bother all Ugandans with sound consciences.
That uncountable friends of ours may not recall the last time they caught malaria or even lost a relative to malaria should bothers anyone reading this piece.
Over and above the scientific, socio-economic and complex logistical dynamics associated with the dozens of donor and government-led initiatives implemented to fight against malaria, what else could be done to reduce the caseload and mortality rates of malaria?
How can we enhance efforts to empower our communities, especially those in rural and most-at-risk areas, so that they can better appreciate their role in the fight against malaria?
In Primary Four during my days, we were exposed to basic health science and sanitation stuff. Long bushes and stagnant waters, we learnt, are the ideal breeding places for the female anopheles mosquito, the vector which transmits malaria parasites.
However, open drainages filled with stagnant water, sewage and all sorts of filth are not uncommon in our neighbourhoods, even when they pose such a danger to our health.
Cleaning up such open drainages and clearing long bushes in our neighbourhoods would not only be an easy way of making our long-forgotten science teachers proud, but also save lives by reducing incidences of catching malaria.
Just like any other disease, early testing is very important in the diagnosis and treatment of malaria.
The common symptoms include: fever, shaking chills, headache, muscle aches, and body weakness. However, the tendency of delaying testing many a time worsens the situation to the extent of admission in medical facilities.
Closely related is another behavior of refusal to complete the prescriptions given by medical personnel.
The examples cited here are only among many other individual-led efforts and practices that could prevent and/or reduce the incidences and mortality rates of malaria. We acknowledge government and its partners in their fight against malaria in Uganda.
However, my conviction is that significant reduction in malaria cases and deaths will be achieved faster if local communities also appreciate their role in the fight against malaria.
As noted by Prof Wangari Maathai in her Green Belt Movement in Kenya, when communities are involved in solving their problems, they become empowered and more accountable for their lives and environment.
In our case, if individuals and local communities took their place in fighting against malaria, they would more probably than not become empowered to find solutions to other problems affecting them.
Augustine Bahemuka is a commentator on issues of peace and society