In the last three months, 162 people have died of malaria in various health facilities in northern Uganda and 22,873 cases registered, the director general of health services Dr Ruth Aceng has revealed.
The ten most affected districts include Lamwo, Gulu, Kitgum, Oyam, Agago, Apac, Amuru, Kole, Nwoya and Pader. According to Aceng, Kitgum is worst affected with 5,382 cases and 22 deaths followed by Apac with 3,278 cases and 13 deaths.
Gulu comes third with 2,713 malaria cases and 41 deaths; Oyam district has 2,219 cases with 26 deaths, Amuru district 2, 249 and 4 deaths. Aceng says the ministry has confirmed the cause of the outbreak as the cessation of the indoor residual spraying (IRS) that ended in April 2014 and covered at least 90% of the households.
“All districts experiencing the outbreak; were districts where indoor residual spraying had been conducted over the past several years. The ministry of health working closely with partners has developed a national response plan to address the epidemic. The objective of is to rapidly bring down the number of malaria cases to the pre-outbreak levels and to effectively manage malaria cases so as to limit the mortality and morbidity on the population,”, she said.
Dr Okui Albert, the program manager Malaria Control Program says the climate in northern Uganda encourages the propagation of the vector. He says although there are plans to eliminate the epidemic, it will take some time because of the limited resources.
Dr Aceng adds that from the surveys conducted by the ministry, people in this region are lax about sleeping under mosquito nets.
She says that many Ugandans need to understand that malaria treatment and prevention requires a set of interventions like sleeping under mosquito nets, seeking medical care and adherence to medication.
The ministry has dispatched three multidisciplinary teams composed of epidemiologists, clinicians, Entomologists, data managers and laboratory technicians to provide technical support.
In order to ensure effective treatment of cases, anti- malarial medicines including second line anti-malaria drugs and medicines for severe cases have been delivered to all other districts.
Dr. Aceng says that the ministry is also considering conducting at least two rounds of IRS in the affected districts to bring down the mosquito density.