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Govt denies Malaria epidemic in Uganda amidst 820 deaths

Dr. Jane Aceng, the Minister for Health appearing before the House recently. She denied malaria epidemic reports within the country. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – The Minister for Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng has denied a malaria epidemic within the country despite Government recording 820 deaths at the onset of the rainy season.

The Minister made the remarks on Thursday, August 15, while responding to complaints from MPs like Franca Akello (Agago Woman) who reported last week that nine children died in Agago in a single day, complaints that were reechoed by Okin Ojara (Chwa West).

“The malaria phenomena we are experiencing in the country is an upsurge and not an epidemic or outbreak. An upsurge is a slight gradual increase in cases of malaria while an outbreak or epidemic is a sudden and steep increase in cases that overwhelms the health system,”said Hon Aceng.

The Ministry of Health highlighted that there is a Malaria upsurge in the country which started from June 2019 resulting from the rainy season the country is currently experiencing, where the cases of malaria are gradually increasing from the baseline seasonal peak usually experiencing following a rainy season.

However, a number of MPs accused the Minister of glossing over the malaria cases in the country wondering how she can label the latest trend as an upsurge allegations the Minister refuted arguing, “We can’t change the definition from upsurge to an epidemic that is scientific.”

In her statement, the Minister admitted that cases of severe malaria have also increased by30% especially in urban setting but malaria case fatality rate has not significantly increased.

She said, “People in areas with low malaria such as Kampala and Kigezi region (parasite prevalence less than 1%) are prone to severe malaria due to reduced/low immunity. According to our statistics we have registered a total of 820 deaths during this upsurge.”

According to Government, the number of cases of malaria have increased by over 400,000 this year compared with last year, from about 1 million cases in June 2018, to 1.4 million in June 2019 a 40% increase) but maintained that the number of cases are still low compared to 2017 and 2016 in the same period.

Lawmakers asked the Minister to explain why the Minister isn’t considering spreading outdoors, while others wondered why no action is being taken against Ugandans who use mosquito nets in their gardens.

The Minister replied, “We aren’t aware of any safe chemicals that we can spray outside. The vectors are found outside. There are no plastic mosquitoes. Studies we are carrying out include introducing sterile mosquitoes so that when they get out, they don’t reproduce.”

Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga asked MPs to use their voices as leaders, “As you are asking the Minister to come up with recommendations and there are Ugandans using these nets in their gardens, catching fish, take them on. Use your voice, use your positions.”

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