26 April 2012

Uganda: Prisons Hit Hard By Malaria

Photo: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Bed nets prevent malaria.

There is an alarming spread of malaria in prisons, the medical superintendent at Murchison Bay hospital, Dr Joseph Andama has said.

"Malaria infection in prisons is much higher than the national prevalency rate due to the fact that the prison's department previously did not have access to control measures and that the institution has all the ingredients favorable for vector breeding," Andama observed.

Currently the prison's department data management system cannot quantify the burden of the diseases, the medical official explained.

The medical section budget was increased and for that reason many drugs were supplied to cater for prisons medical services.

Having engaged in the malaria control progamm, Murchison Bay hospital has not experienced drug shortage, Andama noted.

But the spread of malaria within the confinements could be accelerated by security measures put in place as regards the use of mosquito nets.

For security reasons, the prisons authority discourages the use of mosquito nets as measure of preventing malaria because "inmates may dubiously turn the nets into ropes and use the opportunity to escape from prison."

Andama says the only control intervention at the moment is the use of indoor residual spraying that was piloted in some areas.

But due to financial constraints, authorities are not capable of carrying out the spraying exercise in all prison units.

Previously, Murchison Bay hospital would admit more than 100 prisoners suffering from malaria, but after the intervention, it only admits an average of 15- 20 prisoners daily.

Of the 220 prison units countrywide, only four have benefited from indoor residual spraying that include Gulu, Fort Portal and Luzira.

"Currently the Prisons department has embarked on indoor residual spraying as one of the strategies to kill the vector in order to eradicate malaria infections in the detention facility, " Andama said.

In order to combat the disease, Andama advocates for DDT spraying in prisons.

" I don't know why people discourage the spray of DDT yet it's used in some countries. We tend to romance with diseases which have got a very high economic burden to the nation."

He cited countries like China and the U.S. that have succeeded through spraying DDT but the disease is still flourishing in the country because scientists have not been given the opportunity to make decisions as regards its use.

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