By Douglas Onyango (Founder of DERON LTD, an innovations and Digital Marketing company in Uganda)
Amina Naboosa is a mother of five, from Kiwologoma Village in Uganda’s most populated District, Wakiso. After prayers on Sunday 28th January 2018, the middle-aged woman — who does not know her real age — joined 7.5 million Ugandan households to receive Mosquito nets under the Universal Coverage Campaign by the Ministry of Health.
Mosquito nets are critical in the control of malaria, the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in Uganda. According to Ministry of Health, Malaria accounts for 25% of deaths among infants and 45% of outpatient cases in hospitals.
Because nearly 20% of Ugandans live below the poverty line, and 83% of the young population is out of work, interventions like indoor residual spraying and mosquito nets — whose street value is USD 4 — is far above the reach of many Ugandans.
Through distribution of mosquito nets and promotion of its proper use in combination with other strategies, the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) has been able to achieve reduction in the prevalence of malaria from 42% in 2009 to 19% in 2014.
Without these Government interventions, the progress seen today on Malaria elimination in Uganda wouldn’t be possible.
The 2016 Uganda demographic and health survey results seems to suggest that this trend has stagnated. According to Jimmy Opigo, Programme Manager, NMCP, the on-going net distribution is one of the interventions to remedy this gap. Other strategies include indoor residual spraying, case management, behaviour change communication including promotion of prompt treatment and surveillance.
That being said, a number of bottlenecks still hinder the effectiveness of malaria control efforts in Uganda. Key among these bottlenecks are funding and coordination challenges. A revitalized NMCP is now in the process of tackling these bottlenecks yet some of them such as optimal funding to ensure implementation of strategies to the required scale, still persist.
For citizens like Amina, a mosquito net can be the difference between life and death for her and her 5 children.
Government of Uganda and its partners must therefore doubt efforts on strategies like promotion of mosquito net use in the years ahead if the dream of a Malaria-free Uganda is to become a reality.