New Vision (Kampala)

4 November 2012

Uganda: Affordable Drugs Vital for Fight Against Malaria

opinion

ACCORDING to the 2011 Demographic and Health Survey, only 43% of children with malaria access drugs. If not treated, malaria can become life-threatening by disrupting the blood supply to vital organs.

In many parts of the world, the parasites have developed resistance to a number of drugs.

The 2011 World Malaria Report indicates that out of 216 million cases worldwide in 2010, 81% occurred in Africa. The report also indicates that 91% of the 655,000 deaths due to malaria took place in Africa.

Malaria is responsible for more deaths than any other disease in Uganda, according to the 2006 Uganda Demographic Health Survey.

Children under fi ve years are more susceptible to the disease. The disease remains a threat, mainly because most children do not sleep under mosquito nets while others do not receive proper treatment.

The global response to eliminate malaria has created an impact and yielded remarkable results in the past years.

However, these gains are fragile and will be reversed unless the disease continues to be a priority for global, regional and national decision makers.

Reducing the spread of malaria will cut down on mortality deaths by two thirds. The Government and ministry of health has continuously raised awareness on malaria.

Their increased malaria prevention and control measures are dramatically reducing the spread of the disease.

Today, the number of interventions include prompt and effective treatment with Artemisinin-based combination therapies, use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and indoor residual spraying with insecticide.

The health ministry recommends that all cases of suspected malaria be confirmed using parasite-based diagnostic testing and rapid diagnostic test before administering treatment.

The Government recommends use of affordable drugs.

The Government should address issues of accessibility of affordable medicines and rapid diagnostic tests by ensuring that they are available in drug shops and health centres.

In addition, the provision of credible information about malaria prevention is vital.

Implementation of community-based interventions in the malaria programme is the backbone of disease control.

The writer works with the Programme for Accessible Health Communication and Education

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