One of the goals of the Uganda Malaria Reduction Strategic Plan UMRSP (2014–2020) was and is to reduce the malaria parasite prevalence to less than 7%, (over 85% reduction in malaria parasite prevalence from a baseline of 45%) by 2020.
With the vision; to have a “malaria free Uganda”, the National Malaria Control Program under the Ministry of Health is making efforts and employing possible measures to end malaria in the country.
Uganda’s malaria reports, statistical data
It should be noted that Uganda is ranked among the top 10 countries in Africa with severe malaria, as more than 16 people die daily, contributing a 5% of the global malaria deaths.
According to the 2019 World Malaria Report by World Health Organisation, Uganda is still the third highest contributor of malaria cases and the 7th highest contributor of malaria deaths.
The 2014 UMRSP Report indicates that in 2013 alone, over 16 million malaria cases and over 10,500 deaths were reported at health facilities.
According to the Ministry of Health, Malaria kills at least 16 people every day in Uganda and is considered among the top causes of death.
Malaria testing kits
More efforts to determine the best malaria testing kits continue to surface ever since the emergence of the Rapid Diagnostic Kits in the early 1990s.
The new developments have been subjected to testing by the World Health Organisation to prevent the circulation of fake ones in the medical supplies markets.
In 2019 a study was made using the Highly Sensitive Rapid NxTek Malaria Test Kits (HS-RDTs) in comparison with the use of a smart phone application (the Data Logger SMAPP) by the village health-care workers to provide an opportunity for real-time disease surveillance and elimination intervention in Mpigi district. T
The Ministry of Health discovered that the HS-RDTs (Abbott’s Malaria test) was more effective than the rapid diagnostic kits – the ordinary malaria tests.
This study was an “Observation to evaluate the value added high (Ultra) sensitive alere malaria RDT (HS-RDTs) and ease of use of smart phone reporting in Uganda.”
Thus, the newly approved HS-RDTs were supplied to various health facilities to facilitate quick detection of malaria parasites. This will help in the fight against malaria according to the Health Ministry.
Malaria testing in expectant mothers
Dr Jimmy Opigo, manager of Malaria Control Program said, “All suspected malaria cases will be subjected to a quality assured test on parasite based diagnosis.”
He also noted that pregnant mothers will be screened for malaria, on top of STIs that have always been focussed on.
“Previously, we have been screening for HIV, syphilis. However, malaria will be tested too to prevent the complications that come with malaria during pregnancy.”
According to the 2009 Malaria Indicator Survey (MIS), there was high prevalence of malaria parasites in children below 5 years of age; ranging from 5% in Kampala to 63% in mid northern region, with a national average of 45%.
Dr. Daniel Kyabayinze, the Deputy Manager Malaria Control Program also confirmed that the highly sensitive rapid kits are more effective and are ideal with the expectant mothers since malaria parasite detection tends to be a bit elusive with their condition.
“When pregnant mothers came in seeking care, we offered them a test as our policy; one with the highly sensitive test kits and the other with cRDTs (ordinary malaria tests). With the highly sensitive tests, we found 13% positive. When we used the cRDT, we found 7%,” he confirmed.
In the same vein, Dr Atwine mentioned that once the kits are introduced in schools, the fight will be effective.
“Children in schools are the majority of the malaria victims. These kits should be introduced in schools so that once they get sick, they are tested,” she suggested.
Tracking the malaria prevention progress
The weekly malaria status update produced by the National Malaria Control Division on a weekly basis to guide in planning, indicated that during week 29 (between 13th-19th July 2020), a total of 206,138 malaria confirmed cases were reported, which was an increase by 10% from 186,670 in the previous week.
It should be noted that in the same week last year, 286,469 cases were reported.
However, Week 31(between July 27 and August 2, 2020) indicated a total of 187,856 malaria cases reported, having declined by 15% from 220,510 cases the previous week. Compared to the same week last year, the cases reported this year were 63,584(25%) less.
The Ministry of Health is making arrangements that will see more of the HS-RDTs procured and incorporated in many health facilities as this will lay the ground for the early detection and elimination of malaria in Uganda.