On behalf of the Ministry of Health and the Government of Uganda, I take this opportunity to welcome you all to this press conference, convened to inform you about the upcoming nationwide Long Lasting Insecticide Net distribution campaign as one of the national Malaria interventions.
Malaria is still a disease of major concern nationally and globally and is primed for elimination. In Uganda alone, Malaria is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in some regions Everyone in Uganda is at risk of malaria, although pregnant women and children under five years are mostly affected. The cost of treating Malaria is high, a single episode of malaria costs a family on average 30,000 shillings (or 9 US dollars), or close to 3% of the household annual income of majority of families.
According to the 2015 Malaria Indicator Survey, Malaria is endemic in approximately 95% of the country, affecting over 90% of the population. The remaining 5% of the country consists of unstable and epidemic-prone transmission. The central north in particular suffered a serious outbreak of malaria in the period for the last one and a half years and this has destabilised the response.
For the last five years, the country has intensified actions to bring malaria under control. Currently the country is implementing four major interventions to control Malaria as we move the pre-elimination phase. These are;
1. Case Management – Application of the Test, Treat and Track principle, Integrated Community Case Management
2. Indoor Residual Spraying and Use of Insecticide Treated Nets
3. Advocacy, Communication and Social Mobilisation
4. Research and Surveillance (Larviciding is still undergoing large experiments and research, having completed the smaller experiments)
As a result of the above interventions, the national prevalence levels of Malaria have reduced drastically from close to 50% in 2011 to 27% as shown in the 2015 National Malaria Indicator Survey. Other areas such as Kampala have had drastic drop in Malaria prevalence to as less as 2%.
The Net distribution Campaign
In a bid to continuously bring down the burden of Malaria, the Government of Uganda in partnership with many other stakeholders in the fight against Malaria have intensified efforts to increase access to and use of long lasting Insecticide Nest (LLIN), which are durable and cost effective. The nets are provided through routine in health facilities and through mass distribution campaign.
The first mass net campaign in Uganda took place in 2007/2010 targeting women and children who are the most vulnerable group for Malaria. This immensely brought the Malaria incidences in children down and contributed to the reduction of maternal mortality caused due to malaria.
Three years later in 2013/2014, the Government of Uganda undertook the first Universal Coverage Campaign where 21.5 million nets were distributed throughout the country covering over 35 million Ugandans. This hence increased net coverage and protection of Ugandans against Malaria.
To sustain the gains achieved in the previous campaigns and improve areas of net utilization and retention, the Government of Uganda is undertaking yet another National Universal Coverage Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets (LLINs) distribution campaign throughout the country.
The campaign, dubbed “Areymo Malaria – Sleep under a Mosquito net” is coined because of the one year epidemic in Northern Uganda . One of the strategies being used as the country prepares to reach the Pre-elimination phase by 2012 as stipulated in the Uganda national Reduction Strategy. The campaign is intended to reduce the Malaria morbidity and mortality through achieving universal coverage with LLINs. The campaign aims to ensure that 85% of targeted populations have access to a LLIN and 85% of all nets distributed are utilised.
Under this campaign, one mosquito net will be given per two people in the household. The distribution process will be guided by the government structures majorly at the local governments.
The campaign will be phased in eight waves across the country beginning on December 9th, 2016 and will run until April 24, 2017.The activities shall involve district level micro-planning, household registration and final distribution of the insecticide-treated mosquito nets. The waving has been structured depending on the current Malaria prevalence, proximity and operational arrangements for the 116 district.
We shall start from the region hit hardest with the malaria burden and move to end in Kampala and Wakiso, both of which have the lowest burden (less than 1% of population and all year round risk of disease).
Village Health Teams and LC1 chairpersons will move house to house to register all members of households. A verification exercise process will be conducted by local governments and the Ministry of Health. Nets will be distributed to communities by VHTs with support from the locals LCs and security personnel.
The funding for this mass campaign has been mobilised from Government of Uganda, Global Fund against Malaria, TB and HIV, Against Malaria Foundation, DFID, Uganda States Agency for International. The campaign has been costed at about US$ 51,449,200. More funding is still being mobilised for other additional procurements.
Government General Appeal
In a bid to ensure that we achieve the objectives of the campaign, I wish to appeal the general public to;
1. Register for the net when a VHT comes to your household. NO PERSON will receive a net if not registered.
2. Sleeping under a mosquito net every night protects you – SO, SLEEP UNDER A MOSQUITO NET EVERY NIGHT
3. These mosquito nets should be used throughout the year, even when there are fewer mosquitoes, e.g during the dry season
4. Remember to take good care of your mosquito net by keeping it clean and sewing any holes.
Appeal to Leaders
1. Mobilise your communities to register and pick the nets form the distribution points on the distribution day
2. Sensitise communities on the proper use and retention of nets
Appeal to Health Workers
1. Sensitise and educate clients on the benefits of adhering to Malaria prevention and control measures
2. Adhere to the Test, Treat and Track Policy guidelines
I wish to thank the following partners who have worked and are working tirelessly with the MoH to ensure the smooth flow of the campaign; World Health Organisation, The Global Fund, Against Malaria Foundation, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), UNICEF, Malaria Consortium, Church of Uganda, PACE, Communication for Health Communities (CHC),UNBS, NDA and all partners.
I thank you all
For God and My Country
Hon. Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng
Minister of Health