The Honourable Minister for Health,
The Honourable Members of Parliament,
National Malaria Control Programme Managers
Ladies and gentlemen.
I am delighted to welcome you all to this important function meant to flag off the distribution of free mosquito nets. I am very glad about this initiative because it has helped drastically reduce the prevalence of malaria in our country.
We are all very aware that malaria is among the leading, most widespread and serious communicable diseases in the world. MALARIA affects the health and wealth of nations and individuals alike. In Africa today, malaria is understood to be both a disease of poverty and a cause of poverty. Malaria has significant measurable direct and indirect costs, and has recently been shown to be a major constraint to economic development.
The progress made from 2009 to 2014, reducing malaria prevalence from 49% to 19% has stagnated in recent years (2014 – 2017) begging for urgent innovative approach at all levels, if the Uganda Malaria Reduction Strategic Plan (UMRSP) goal of 7% prevalence will be achieved by 2022. For example In 2017, more than 9.4 million confirmed cases of malaria and 5,111 deaths were reported, this therefore calls for greater investment in malaria control – particularly at the domestic level.
There should also be mass action against malaria at all levels by all stakeholders including households and communities.Annual economic growth in countries with high malaria transmission has historically been lower than in countries without malaria. Economists believe that malaria is responsible for a ‘growth penalty' of up to 1.3% per year in some African countries. When compounded over the years, this penalty leads to substantial differences in GDP between countries with and without malaria and severely restrains the economic growth of the entire region.
The direct costs of malaria include a combination of personal and public expenditures on both prevention and treatment of the disease. Personal expenditures include individual or family spending on insecticide treated mosquito nets (ITNs), doctors' fees, anti-malarial drugs, transport to health facilities, support for the patient and sometimes an accompanying family member during hospital stays.
Public expenditures include spending by government on maintaining health facilities and health care infrastructure, publicly managed vector control, education and research. In some countries with a heavy malaria burden, the disease may account for as much as 40% of public health expenditure, 30-50% of inpatient admissions, and up to 50% of outpatient visits.
In the last decade Uganda’s malaria treatment policy has been complicated by the emergence and spread of drug resistance to widely used antimalarial medicines. We successfully changed the first-line antimalarial treatment policy twice in just five years: The problem of chloroquine resistance became so significant that the country was compelled, in 2000, to change the first line option from chloroquine alone to a combination of Fansidar and chloroquine. However, the lifespan of the new policy was short-lived, again due to resistance. Consequently, in 2004, Uganda once more changed the treatment policy to the WHO recommended artemisinin combination therapy (ACT).
We adopted the ACT, Artemether Lumefantrine, and deployed it in 2006, making it available free of charge through the extensive network of public and not-for-profit health facilities.
As a nation we have registered great strides towards the elimination of malaria. The government shall continue to support initiatives like this as we work together to ensure that we are a malaria free country.
As you distribute this mosquito nets ensure that the communities are well sensitized about its proper usage so that they are not misused. I hope it will ultimately lead to a reduction of our heavy burden of malaria.
I give my full support and wish this initiative all the success.
I thank you.