Uganda: Residents Turn Mosquito Nets Into Building Materials

Leaders in Rukungiri District have decried the misuse of mosquito nets, which were distributed by government to curb the spread of malaria.

The leaders say the public is using the mosquito nets as a substitute for banana fibre while building houses and also protect chicken. The nets were given out in August 2020.

Mr George Musiime, a member of the Kahoko Village Health Team (VHT), said: "We distributed mosquito nets and every family received two to four nets. It is disappointing that instead of these nets being used to protect oneself from malaria, people are using them to build their houses."

He added: "I have already compiled a report about the usage of the nets and sent it to the concerned offices. Very soon, those who misused the nets will be apprehended. I could not sit back and watch taxpayers' money go to waste."

Ms Susan Bahati, another VHT attached to Buyanja Health Centre III in Buyanja Town Council, said at least 20 new houses in her village have been constructed using mosquito nets.

"It is now a normal habit because there is no hiding at all. People don't fear that they can be arrested. I have tried my level best to sensitise the public about the right use of the net and the benefits of sleeping under a mosquito net but people do not listen. We arrested three to act as an example but still people continue misusing mosquito nets," Ms Bahati said.

The Buyanja Sub-county chairperson, Mr Emmy Agaba Rubondo, said he was aware of the habit and was working with sub-county chiefs and health assistant to have the perpetrators apprehended.

"We are soon sending a team on ground. People have taken government programmes for granted," Mr Agaba said.

The Rukungiri District chairman, Mr Geoffrey Kyomukama, said during his political campaigns in 2020, he saw people using mosquito nets to shelter their chicks and some using them as banana fibers while putting up their houses.

Rukungiri District health officer Akasima Mucunguzi said: "People should know the importance of sleeping under mosquito nets mostly these days when the country is fighting Covid-19. Someone with malaria cannot survive Covid-19 and we have many cases of malaria in the district."

He added: "We are going to work closely with other offices in the district and keep sensitising the public so that we can fight this bad habit from the district."

Rukungiri Resident District Commissioner Stephen Bawayo said his office is aware of the vice and that they are going to conduct an investigation to have the perpetrators arrested.

Distribution

In August 2020, government, through the Ministry of Health, carried out a nationwide campaign to distribute free mosquito nets. More than 27 million nets were distributed nationwide.

Rukungiri District Malaria Focal person Muhwezi Edson, said in 2020, the district registered more than 20,000 malaria cases and they have so far registered 8,000 cases of Malaria this year.

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