Malaria Cases Lower in Uganda, But Still Deadly for Many

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By ChildFund Uganda Staff
Posted on 4/20/2016
Uganda

A village health team member gives a rapid diagnostic test for malaria to a baby in Uganda’s Kiyuni Parish.

Malaria is a growing problem in northern Uganda, with outbreaks occurring earlier this year in camps for South Sudanese refugees. According to the United Nations, one out of four deaths among refugees in Uganda is from malaria. Responding to the problem, the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative sent more than 267,000 insecticide-treated mosquito bed nets to the region in March.

The situation in Uganda’s refugee camps is far from the only concern about malaria, which is responsible for the most illnesses and deaths in the nation, but concentrated efforts over the past decade have helped make progress in reducing the number of cases.  

Last year, ChildFund Korea awarded a one-year grant to a Ugandan university to research ways to control malaria’s spread, including training village health teams and improving diagnoses, treatment and vector elimination. USAID and other government aid agencies have joined the efforts to stop malaria, and local organizations have distributed bed nets and information about keeping parasite-carrying mosquitoes at bay.

We have seen improvement in some regions, although there is still more work to do. According to the World Health Organization, the number of Ugandan children under 5 infected with malaria has declined more than 55 percent from 2009 to 2014, thanks to distribution of insecticide-treated nets and indoor residual spraying. But malaria is still responsible for half of all in-patient pediatric deaths, and every single Ugandan — more than 37 million people — is at risk of contracting the disease.

ChildFund Uganda recently asked health workers in Kiyuni Parish in western Uganda to share information about malaria’s impact on their community, which has received considerable support.

According to Labson Katambala, a coordinator for ChildFund’s local partner in Kiyuni Parish, instances of malaria infection have decreased there, because most families use mosquito nets on their beds and have screens on their windows. Health workers also have learned how to diagnose malaria parasite carriers, people who may never exhibit symptoms, and treat them so they won’t spread the illness.

“The issue of malaria has now become history altogether,” Katambala says. “The congestion that used to be at the hospital is no more today. We test people, and most of them do not have the parasite. We are trying to totally eliminate malaria in the area.”

Sebalunzi Lawusan, a member of the village health team, adds: “We are so grateful. From what I see, people no longer suffer so much from malaria, because we treat people in time and they also have tried to prevent the disease.”

You can help by giving insecticide-treated mosquito nets from our Real Gifts Catalog, and learn more about malaria