By Goodluck Musinguzi

Dr Jimmy Opigo, Uganda’s Malaria Specialist and Assistant Commissioner says World Mosquito Day reminds us our responsibility as individuals and government in the fight against Malaria.

“On this day of World Mosquito Day,i wish to request that we defeat COVID-19 and Malaria together. Government and partners have made insecticide treated mosquito nets available. The rest is individual responsibility to sleep under the net every night”, said Opigo.

Most leaders across the globe hailed those individuals who make a contribution in the fight against mosquitoes that cause malaria disease.

“So we want to thank all who dedicate their lives to advancing against diseases like malaria. Through funding science and innovation, we can endmalaria on this WorldMosquitoDay”, said Rotarians Against Malaria (RAM) Australia

They said on this day in 1897, scientists discovered that female mosquitoes transmit malaria to humans.

Dr Diana Atwine, Permanent Secretary had encouraging words to everyone involved in the fight against mosquitoes.

“Special credit to all our teams that are making it possible for the delivery of treated mosquito nets to our people in the communities. I urge the public to sleep under the net to be safe from malaria”, said Dr Diana.

By awareness about malaria and its transmission along with implementation of preventive measures we can control the transmission of malaria

Despite medicine’s impressive innovations, malaria still thrives in many parts of the world. Finding new ways to fight this parasite is crucial.

Hon Jane Ruth Aceng, Minister of Health has appealed to Ugandans to make sure they join the fight against mosquitoes that cause malaria.

In a post on social media she asks Why survive covid-19 and die of malaria?

While Covid-19 has killed 19 people in the last 5 months ,Uganda lost over 4000 people among the 13 million cases registered with malaria.

She said Ugandans should sleep under a treated mosquito net every night because its one of the most effective method of preventing malaria.

“the insecticides used for treating bed nets kill mosquitoes, as well as other insects, and they also repel mosquitoes, reducing the number entering the house to feed on the people inside”.

Jane Ruth Aceng says the government of Uganda is investing alot of resources to make sure each house hold gets treated nets.

If the country achieves high community coverage of ITNs is achieved, the numbers of mosquitoes as well as their life span will be reduced.

Dr Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health says local leaders should make sure their people are protected because health people are productive.

“checking on each other at household level makes many people appreciate why they should sleep under a treated mosquito net. The government is doing its part at the center, the local leaders should make sure these efforts yield positive results”,

The use of ITNs has repeatedly been shown to reduce the incidence of severe disease and mortality due to malaria in malaria-affected regions.

ITNs can also have a beneficial effect on other insect pests, such as head lice, ticks, bedbugs and cockroaches.

Flavia Mpanga with contributions from Fred Kagwire, Richard Oketch, Allen Senvume, Phillips Nyeko wrote an article Why escape COVID-19 only to die of malaria? Spotlight on the malaria response during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Uganda has been at war battling with the COVID-19 pandemic since 21 March 2020. The country’s worries about the virus are justified;

COVID-19 infections can easily overwhelm the health system due to an increased demand for services and disruption of essential health service delivery at both facility and community levels.

This places vulnerable populations at risk of dying from other preventable and/or treatable conditions.

To contain the spread of COVID-19, the Government of Uganda, very early on, put in place tight control measures aimed at keeping infections in check.

Institutions of learning were closed, as were places of worship, shopping malls, public and private transport, bringing the country to near total lock-down.

However, while useful in preventing the spread of the virus, the restriction of movement also has the potential to adversely affect health service delivery.
Malaria: A tale in numbers

Malaria is the leading cause of illness and death in Uganda, gravely impacting health and productivity. A total of 13.4 million cases of malaria were confirmed in Uganda in 2019. Four thousand of these ended in death.

These statistics clearly underline the need to increase focus on malaria management amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

An added complication is the fact that malaria and COVID-19 bear some similarities in the way they present.

The early symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, muscle pain and fatigue, might be mistaken for malaria and other similar infections, leading to challenges in early diagnosis and management.
Keeping an eye on both balls

It is evident that during this time, any effective health intervention must combine measures to prevent COVID-19 with managing the impact of existing malaria infections.

To this end, UNICEF, working in collaboration with the Malaria Consortium and the Ministry of Health (MOH), supported the development of the “Guidance on Continuity of Essential Health Services during the COVID-19 outbreak”.

These guidelines spelt out clear procedures for the provision of essential health services, especially regarding malaria.

The guidelines emphasized the need to promote social distancing during the provision of services, as well as the use of appropriate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for infection control.

UNICEF and partners have continued to provide technical support to MOH regional and district teams in order to ensure that the provision of health services remains uninterrupted during the lock–down period.

This is done through participation in district task force meetings and routine support supervision to health facilities and the community.

Districts have been supported in the preparation of COVID-19 isolation and quarantine centres and in the adherence to entry restrictions in border districts.

With funding from DFID, UNICEF, in collaboration with the Malaria Consortium, under the Strengthening Uganda’s Response to Malaria (SURMa) programme, has worked closely with health officials in 27 districts to resume the implementation of key malaria-related activities.

All patients, including pregnant women that presented with a fever, were screened at medical facilities, appropriately triaged, comprehensively assessed (through history taking, physical exam and laboratory investigation) and treated based on findings.

The SURMa programme has supported the continued availability of key essential medicines and diagnostics at health facilities, with redistribution of supplies where necessary.

In addition, all quarantine centres have been supplied with tools to diagnose malaria diagnostic as well as anti-malarial medicines to ensure everyone is screened and those found to have malaria effectively managed in the isolation and quarantine centres.

Integrated Community Case Management (iCCM) of malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia by Community Health Workers plays a vital role in ensuring that under-fives can access quality care in the shortest time possible, thereby decongesting health facilities and saving lives.

UNICEF reprogrammed funds within SURMa project activities to procure PPEs for the Village Health Teams (VHTs) so they can continue to provide care, while maintaining social distancing.

The SURMa programme supported the provision of bicycles to parish coordinators who help in the redistribution of iCCM medicines from health facilities to the VHTs in communities who are finding it difficult to access health facilities due to the transport restrictions.

Long-lasting insecticide treated nets were distributed through the routine Antenatal Care (ANC) and Expanded Program on Immunisation (EPI).

Nets were also provided to special groups like market vendors and truck drivers who had been directed by the Government to sleep at their workplaces during the lock-down period.

Social and behaviour change communication (SBCC)activities on malaria have been integrated with COVID-19 messaging, with the SURMa programme supporting radio drives as well as provision of Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials on COVID-19 and malaria management to heath facilities and VHTs in order to support dissemination to household level.

About Goodluck Musinguzi

Born on 12th March 1979 in Kabale district, South Western Uganda near the Rwanda and Eastern Congo Borders. Started Journalism around 1999, the Kibwetere inferno was a turn around. Entatsi newspaper and Monitor FM were interested in my stories. I covered extensively the Amama Mbabazi-Garuga Musinguzi Parliamentary elections extensively for Monitor Newspaper,Monitor FM, Voice of Kigezi and Entatsi Newspaper. Later I worked with Uganda Radio Network. Newvision gave me opportunity to cover War in Eastern Congo. Did investigation stories. Am now the Chief Executive Officer Kigezi News Agency Limited, we publish for a number of websites in Uganda.

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