By Goodluck Musinguzi
Kampala City and Wakiso have the most concentrated population in Uganda, the Ministry of Health will carry out a massive exercise to distribute millions of long lasting treated mosquito nets.
Dr Jimmy Opigo, Commissioner National Malaria Control Program said a total of 2.713.968 long lasting mosquito nets have been availed for Kampala and Wakiso.
He said this at the Regional Advocacy meeting for the 3rd Universal Coverage campaign for the distribution of mosquito nets held at Hotel Africana.
Wakiso district has highest projected population of 3.255.945, they will share 1.566.949 mosquito nets packed in 39.299 bales.
While Kampala City’s projected population is 2.492.711, they will get 1.147.019 mosquito nets packed in 28.733 bales.
Dr Opigo said they will move the long lasting mosquito nets near the distribution centers on Thursday so that its easier to reach people.
“Ministry of Health set out to protect Ugandans with more mosquito nets every three years. We started in the rural areas because many areas were reporting floods. Kampala and Wakiso are experiencing rains which means its the right time to get mosquito nets”, said Dr Opigo
He thanked the Minister of Kampala Capital Authority for mobilizing the teams that will participate in the distribution of long lasting mosquito nets.
“The teams will be deployed with information but the leaders are being addressed first at Hotel Africana so that they monitor what will be said to their people for accountability purposes”.
Dr Diana Atwine said “We flagged-off distribution of Mosquito Nets to districts pending official launch. For the first time Global Fund and partners are entirely using government systems to implement a programme of this nature. We are grateful for the confidence developed and pledge optimal performance”.
We were not able to start as scheduled because of the lock down but now that it has been partially lifted, we can continue as planned. We will be distributing over 27,000,000 nets to all districts in Uganda. We expected to complete this exercise by the end of this calendar year but logistical challenges have forced us to push in the new year.
The first wave will go to 25 districts. The 25 districts were selected depending on the disease burden. We are starting with districts that were affected by flooding in the Easterm region and those, most especially in Northern Uganda, that have recorded higher cases of malaria.
We have developed ICT capacity to account for every single mosquito net given to every single household through a robust mobile phone reporting system. For all batches delivered to districts and down to subcounties, a detailed message will be sent to key stakeholders from National to Local area level for follow up.
In 2018, a statement from the health ministry said , the registration exercise would be conducted by LC1 chairpersons and village health team members dressed in a Chase Malaria T-shirt and a name tag for easy identification.
“They moved from house-to-house to register the number of people in each household”.
The campaign achieved over 100% coverage, with millions of bed nets distributed, protecting a total of 44,713,517 persons in 109 Districts countrywide.
The statement also highlighted that the campaign is premised on the background that large-scale long-lasting insecticide treated mosquito net distributions is a key component of the national malaria prevention initiative. The nets are effective, user-friendly and a low-cost intervention to protect communities against malaria.
“In populations with mosquito nets, insecticide treated nets have been shown to reduce all-cause child mortality by about 20%. They decrease clinical cases of malaria by about 50% and severe malaria by 45%,” read the statement.
Government started fumigating areas around city markets as well as distribute mosquito nets to vendors sleeping there in the early days of the lock down.
Launching the program at Nakawa market then, the Health Ministry Permanent Secretary, Dr. Diana Atwine said as the country battles the COVID 19 pandemic, they realised that there is another risk, malaria.
The campaign stems from a directive by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to vendors to sleep in the market to eliminate the risk of taking the coronavirus to their homes or picking it from their homes and bringing it to markets.
He also directed the Health Ministry to work with local governments to distribute mosquito nets to vendors and fumigate areas around the market. Atwine says they will provide nets and fumigate all markets in Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono districts in line with the presidential directive.
Atwine says they are working with KCCA to desilt nearby channels that have also become breeding grounds for mosquito. Jimmy Opigo, the Assistant Commissioner Malaria Control Program says it is important to prevent malaria especially now since doctors are occupied with COVID-19.
The Ministry had planned to conduct a nationwide distribution of the mosquito nets but this wasn’t possible because of COVID 19. Opigo says they are consulting to see how best they can distribute nets effectively in this period without aiding the spread of the coronavirus.
He says they have over 10 million nets in their stores from which they will pick some to give to the vendors sleeping in markets.
Dr. Alfred Mubangizi, the Acting Assistant Commissioner Vector Borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases, says they will be spraying all breeding areas around markets to kill the larvae and adult mosquitoes in markets. The team conducting the spray is using pirates, a plants based chemical to spray the mosquitoes.
Nur Nakassi, a dealer in potatoes and cassava in Nakawa market says she has been sleeping in the market since the president issued the directive more than two weeks back. Nakassi, a resident of Kireka, says it has been hard sleeping on hard surface covering and linking stalls.
She welcomed the presidential directive to give them mosquito nets, saying there are so many mosquitoes that made sleeping in the market harder.
Nakawa market the first to be fumigated will be handled on Sunday. The surroundings including identified breeding areas like bushes will be sprayed during day and the market in the nights