To stem wastage of resources, the ministry of Health must get rid of malaria in Uganda, the speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has said.
The ministry of health and its partners are using a number of costly interventions, such as the distribution of 21 million long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLITNs) and indoor residual spraying to stem malaria.
According to the Malaria Consortium, it costs about seven dollars to purchase and distribute a net. Kadaga said spending big amounts of money on short-term solutions such as LLITNs was wasteful.
“Buying and distributing 21 nets every three years does not make sense. That money is better used on other things, even if it is from partners,” said Kadaga, the guest of honour at the commemoration of the World Health and World Malaria days on April 24 at Serena conference centre.
The ministry and partners have distributed nets across 71 districts and hope that by mid-June, they will have distributed nets to all the 112 districts. Ten districts have also benefitted from indoor residual spraying and Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the director general of health services at the ministry of health, said the ministry planned to spray 50 districts in three years. Kadaga, however, thinks elimination of malaria is the best approach.
“We travelled to Cuba during the Seventh Parliament and they had eliminated malaria. I wrote reports, to the president, the ministry of health but nothing came of them,” Kadaga said.
“You know what happens to these nets, some are used for fishing and others for weddings,” she added.
She also encouraged the ministry of Health to foster partnerships with the ministries of Finance and Local Government and most importantly, traditional leaders, to fight malaria.
“You need partnerships not only in Kampala but in the villages too, and not with the RDCs but with the village chiefs. I am the speaker but if the head of my clan invited me for a meeting, I would go,” Kadaga said.
Uganda jointly marked this year’s World Health and Malaria days under the theme, Small bite, big threat, sleep under a treated mosquito net. Although the focus was on malaria, the light was also shone on other vector-borne diseases such as worms, which affect all Ugandans, bilharzia, (6.7 million Ugandans), elephantiasis (4.6m), trachoma, (8.9 million) and sleeping sickness, (7.4 million). The ministry hopes to eliminate them because they care “ancient and can be controlled,” Aceng says.
As the world celebrated the Malaria day, activists opposed to the use of DDT spraying to combat the disease cautioned against the lifelong effects of the pesticide on human health and environment.
The warning followed reports that government was considering embarking on residual spraying, next year, to kill the mosquito vectors that transmit the disease. Ellady Muyambi, the secretary general of Uganda Network on Toxic Free Malaria Control (UNETMAC) told The Observer on April 24 that DDT was a danger to human health.
“We have scientific studies which have demonstrated toxicity of DDT in regard to human health and [know] it will affect the environment.
“It accumulates in the food chain and can be transported from an area where it was used, to an area where it was not. In all other African countries which have been using DDT, they have failed to eliminate malaria. Seventeen countries have tried it and have failed; now they opted to use other options. So, we are saying our country should not rely on it,” Muyambi said.