By Goodluck Musinguzi
International travelers are advised against Malaria disease because of imported infections. Malaria cases were on the rise amongst travelers in June 2015, Public Health England (PHE) reported an overall increase of 5.7% in imported malaria infections.
Countries reported a rise in imported malaria cases and travelers are reminded about the importance of taking appropriate precautions and implementing prevention tactics when travelling to malaria endemic areas.
Uganda is not about to get off the list of the Global Malaria Burdened countries because of its Geographical location. Being on the Equator is a blessing in terms of tourism and a curse in terms of temperatures that are conducive for both the mosquito and protozoa to live.
Dr Jimmy Opigo a Medical Doctor, Public health & Systems expert, Program & malaria specialist,Assistant Commissioner Ministry of Health said the fight against Malaria Disease will be a continuous process because of factors that are beyond interventions of government. He said all efforts are being done to eliminate Malaria but mosquitoes multiply easily in the region.
Ugandans should embrace interventions like sleeping under the mosquito nets so that they protect themselves from Malaria disease as government starts to battle the mosquitoes.
Each year, up to 30,000 travelers contract malaria majority report they don’t research diseases prior to travel. International SOS data shows a correlation between calls for information about malaria and reduced hospital admissions, hospital stays and evacuations related to malaria.
“Malaria is a risk in Uganda. Fill your malaria prescription before you leave and take enough with you for the entire length of your trip”, such Trip advisory messages are given out.
Dr Diana Atwine, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health flagged of the exercise of replacing aging mosquito nets with new ones
“We had planned to give out the treated mosquito nets in the third quarter of financial year 2019/2020(January, February and March) but the pressure of COVID-19 was evident”, said Dr Diana.
Our target is to distribute 27 million mosquito nets to every household so that we reduce malaria to zero. We have already started with Wave One and Two.
In 2018, Uganda became the first of 11 countries which account for the highest burden of malaria disease in the World to launch a targeted malaria control response.
This was a global campaign to reduce cases and deaths caused by malaria by at least 40 per cent by 2020 and subsequently by 75 per cent by 2025.
“People living in areas with low malaria prevalence such as Kampala and the highlands of Kigezi and Mount Elgon are prone to severe malaria due to low immunity. It is therefore important that they protect themselves whenever they travel to high malaria transmission areas,” said Dr Ruth Aceng, Health Minister.
She also noted that seasonal rain in the months of April to June have contributed to the peak of cases in the past few weeks. Despite the figures, the ministry says it is making progress in tackling the disease, having reduced malaria related deaths from 5,100 in 2017 to 3200 annually in 2018.
Malaria prevalence has also dropped from 42 per cent in 2009 to 9 per cent this year.
So far, the malaria upsurge has affected 65 districts in the country — especially in the West Nile, Northern and central regions. But Dr Aceng said the current numbers reported in areas such as Kampala is similar to cases of the disease that was reported in the same period in 2018.
“In Kampala during the month of June 2019, we registered 27,159 cases of malaria compared with 28,086 registered in the same month the previous year. However, the number of severe forms of malaria requiring admission has increased by 60 per cent compared with the same period in 2018,” Dr Aceng noted.
Uganda remains one of 11 countries that account for 70 per cent of all malaria cases globally. Other countries are Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania and India.