Ownership of mosquito nets doubles in Eastern Uganda- report

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The ownership of Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets (LLINs) has doubled in Soroti and Busia districts with up to 98.8 percent of the population owning at least a mosquito net, a new report finds.

The end of project evaluation for World Vision Stop Malaria Project in Soroti and Busia districts released yesterday (31st / 4/2014) also indicates that the average number of nets per household is three and that 70.6 percent of the households now meet the universal coverage criteria of one net for every two members.

“This shows significant increase in ownership of LLINs in the eastern region since the national survey findings of 2009 that showed that the number of households that owned at least one treated net in mid-eastern Uganda was 58 percent, the percentage with more than one treated net was 28.6 percent , percentage of three or more treated nets was 5.3 percent and the average number of LLINs per house hold was 1.5,” the report reads in part.

The World Vision Stop Malaria Project was implemented in Soroti and Busia districts from January 2013 to February 2014 with the goal of contributing to 75 percent reduction in the number of malaria cases and zero preventable malaria deaths by 2015. This is in line with the Ministry of Health National Malaria Control Programme goal “to halt by 2015 and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and thereby minimise the social effects and economic loses attributed to malaria in Uganda.”

Lorna Muheirwe the World Vision Associate Director for Health said that the project was to realise its goals through three key outcomes namely; increased ownership of LLINs in households, increased utilisation of LLINs among children below five years and pregnant women and increased awareness of caregivers and community members on the importance of sleeping under treated mosquito nets.

Indeed the evaluation report finds approximately 95 percent of the 500,000 nets distributed were hang up while about 98 percent of the households responded that they slept under a mosquito net the previous night.

“Implementation of the programme had a huge behavior change communication component done through World Vision’s principles of programming. We wanted to do something sustainable and comprehensive and including behavior change communication would ensure that people used the nets for the right purpose,” Ms Lorna Muheirwe said.

The Acting Commissioner National Disease Control at the Ministry of Health Dr Alex Opio said that World Vision is addressing one of the key strategies in the Ministry of Health and that the findings will be considered as evidence for policy formulation at the Ministry of Health.

“Use of mosquito nets should be 100 percent and behavior change communication should be scaled up. I am convinced that nets are very useful in malaria prevention,” Dr Opio said adding that the ministry will continue to pay attention to the level of resistance of malaria parasites to the treated nets as indicated in related World Vision studies on use of nets to prevent malaria.

World Vision’s Deputy National Director Tinah Mukunda said that she is confident that the behavior change component embedded in the distribution of nets will enable the eastern district communities ensure replacement of nets when worn-out even when World Vision is long gone.

Some recommendations of the report

· Sensitisation on malaria prevention and treatment should be a continuous process.

· The districts should focus on refresher trainings for Village Health Teams (VHTs) to cope with the changing malaria management methods.

· VHTs should be tagged to specific households to be more effective.

· Health centres need constant supply of Rapid Diagnostic tests for malaria diagnosis and antimalarial for treatment.