By Conan Businge
ALL Ugandans will be given free insecticide-treated mosquito nets,
the health ministry has said, adding that their distribution will start
Accordingly, the Government is to import 17.4 million mosquito nets,
the State Minister for Primary Health Care, James Kakooza, told a press
conference at the Media Centre in Kampala yesterday.
The nets will supplement the six million that have already been
distributed in the last three years, said Dr. Richard Ndyomugyenyi, the
malaria control programme officer.
Priority will be given to children and pregnant mothers, but eventually all Ugandans will benefit, the minister said.
The ministry, according to Kakooza, aims at providing one net for
every two people. â€œWhether they use the nets or not, they should be
put up in the house.â€
The distribution of the nets is one of the Governmentâ€™s strategies to
fight malaria, the number one killer in Uganda.
Already, indoor spraying of DDT has been approved after a long
battle with environmentalists who were opposed to its use to kill
mosquitoes. Once implemented, the initiatives are expected to
drastically reduce malaria prevalence in Uganda.
Countries which have achieved universal distribution of mosquito
nets, Kakooza said, have lowered the prevalence of malaria to 1%. â€œWe
can also do it here in Uganda. It is just a matter of time.â€
Uganda spends about sh1,200b annually on managing malaria, or about sh40,000 per person, both in public and private funds.
The Government alone spends sh63b per year, or 10% of the total health budget.
Despite this, malaria remains the leading cause of illness and death
in Uganda. According to the health ministry, malaria kills 320 people
daily. In addition, it accounts for about 40% of outpatient visits to
health care facilities and 20% of hospital admissions.
Asked why malaria incidence was not reducing, Ndyomugyenyi said a
national survey would be carried out soon to compile new figures.
â€œWe need to ascertain the progress made in the fight against the killer malaria disease.â€
He also announced that the public and RDCs will be provided with
information about drug supplies so they can help monitor their use.