Lira, 3rd November 2014:- The Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) Project was launched in fourteen districts of Lango, Bukedi and Teso Sub-regions of Uganda. This followed the closure of the same project that has been done in Acholi sub-region where 10 districts were covered since 2009. This is a project that is being implemented by ABT Associates with funding from PMI and DFID. The ceremony was officiated by the Minister of Health in Charge of Primary Health Care, Hon. Sarah Opendi.
The Area Woman Member of Parliament Hon. Joy Ongom thanked Ministry of Health for making Lira a centre for the Launch of IRS in Lango Region. She said that from what they had seen in the districts that had received IRS before, they had no reason to worry. She also offered her house as a model house for IRS in case the people had any doubts.
Hon Opendi said that Malaria still remains the highest cause of morbidity and mortality and this has adverse effects both socially and economically. She said that government spends close to sixty three billion shillings on treatment of malaria and noted that, that was not something to be proud of. She also said that as Ugandans, we ought to be responsible and sleep under insecticide treated mosquito nets every night, noting that it’s one of the reasons government was compelled to distribute free nets to all. “As a country, we’ve dealt with political instability, now we have to deal with health instability”, she said.
Dr. Charles Katureebe who represented the WHO Country Representative said that there was need to scale up all other interventions as a package that is the IRS, the use of Insecticide-Treated Mosquito Nets, prevention of malaria in pregnant ladies and case management. He said that WHO would continue providing technical support. He also referred the participants to the WHO operational manual for IRS for malaria transmission, control and elimination that says spraying should be done following regular cycles depending on the residual efficacy of the insecticide being used. He thanked the Government of Uganda for prioritizing vector control and for having distributed 23 million ITNs in a universal coverage campaign. Dr. Katureebe however said ABT Associates should ensure that capacity and expatiate are built in all districts of IRS operations for sustainability and continuous monitoring in insecticide resistance and vector behaviors.
Dr. Ruth Aceng, Director General Health Services said there’s need for a very robust exist strategy for the districts that had been implementing IRS to avoid a rebound in malaria cases.
IRS involves the application of long lasting chemical substances (insecticides) on walls and ceilings of all houses and residences to either kill or repel the mosquitoes that land on those surfaces. IRS was seen to be suitable for Uganda because mosquitoes feed and rest indoors. According to the Ministry of Health, Malaria exists in 95% of Uganda and affects 90% of the population. 5% of the country are the areas that are not Malaria prone. It was noted that about 50-60,000 people die of malaria each year, today, compared to the 120,000 back then.
According to WHO, around the world, 3.3 billion people are at risk of contracting malaria. In 2012, an estimated 207 million cases occurred, and the disease killed approximately 627 000 people – most of them children under five in Africa and on average, malaria kills a child every minute.
Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6 looks at combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases. The WHO recommended strategy emphasizes prevention with long-lasting insecticidal nets and Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS), diagnostic testing and treatment with quality-assured anti-malarial medicines, preventive therapies for infants, children and pregnant women as well as tracking every malaria case in a surveillance system.
The 64th World Health Assembly (WHA) set the target for reducing malaria by 75% between 2000 and 2015. WHO is measuring progress towards this target through an analysis of changes in malaria incidence rates.
In attendance were Director General of Health services, Honorable members of parliament of the area including the chairperson of the parliamentary health committee as well as district leaders, government partners in health and the media.
- Dr. Katureebe Charles, Country Advisor Malaria, World Health Organization
- The Minister of Health in charge of Primary Health Care, Hon Sarah Opendi delivering her keynote address