KAMPALA, 25 April 2015 – April 25th was World/Africa Malaria Day. Malaria remains the second killer disease among children under five, claiming 42 children daily and 1,095 annually according to the Uganda Demographic Health Survey 2011. As Uganda joined the rest of the world to commemorate the day, the Government and partners called for more investments towards the reduction of malaria deaths especially among children and women who are more vulnerable.
Uganda is still not on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal on child mortality, with malaria contributing 13% of the under-five mortality.
“The number of children dying to malaria is alarmingly high and without combined efforts and increased investments, the malaria burden will still prevail,” said Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative in Uganda. “Prioritising strategies aimed at averting malaria deaths is one of the best investments we can do for our children. Let’s prioritise malaria prevention to save more and more children. They are the future of our nation,” she added
In 2013, the Government of Uganda launched the Reproductive Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (RMNCH) Sharpened Plan, committing itself to accelerate the reduction of child and maternal mortality. The comprehensive plan looks at strategic shifts or goals aimed at introducing new ways of averting avoidable deaths. The United Nations Children’s Fund and other development partners continue to work closely with the Government through the Ministry of Health to roll out the RMNCH Sharpened Plan that will ensure no new born or child falls short of seeing his/her firth birthday due to diseases like malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea.
Also, the Government of Uganda with support from partners introduced Integrated Community Case Management (ICCM) which is part of its Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) strategy, where Village Health teams (VHTs) offer curative treatments for malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia at community level. All these strategies are aimed at bringing services closer to the people as well as ensure early diagnosis and early treatment of killer diseases like malaria among children and pregnant women. The VHTs are also trained and equipped with medicine and diagnostic gadgets to treat malaria among children under five at the community level.
The ICCM programme has been implemented in 38 districts so far and currently 60% of malaria cases identified among children, receive appropriate treatment from a VHT within 24 hours. As a result of the significant results, the Global Fund recently provided resources to scale-up ICCM to another 33 districts by 2016.
In addition to treatment of malaria through ICCM, malaria can be prevented through the use of Insecticide-Treated Nets (ITNs), which can effectively reduce child mortality greatly. Recent statistics from the Uganda Malaria Indicator Survey (UMIS) 2014-15 indicate that the percentage of households with at least one Insecticide Treated Net has increased to 90% from 47% in 2009. If everyone slept under an ITN, the number of deaths will be reduced.
All these investments are successfully cutting malaria cases. However, until the last child is saved, more and more investments will be required.
World/Africa Malaria Day is commemorated every year on 25 April and recognizes global efforts to control malaria. The theme this year is “Invest in the future: Defeat Malaria.”
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