Uganda’s malaria surge linked to climate change, health ministry says

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 By Frank Lukwago, New Vision/NECJOGHA

Kampala, Uganda – Health Minister, Jane Ruth Aceng has attributed the upsurge in cases of malaria in Uganda to climate change.

Records indicate that the number of malaria cases has increased by over 400,000 this year, from 1 million cases recorded by June 2018, to 1.4 million cases by June 2019. The surge affected at least 65 districts in the areas of West Nile, Acholi, parts of Lango, Busoga, Bunyoro, Karamoja, parts of Buganda, the districts of Amuria, Kumi and Soroti in Teso, and the districts of Kamwenge, Kisoro and Kanungu in Western Uganda.

Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng says that although the number is still below those recorded in the same period in the 2016 and 2017, the record is a threat to recent gains in eradicating malaria, a life-threatening illness that kills more than 400,000 people every year.

She says that the increase in malaria prevalence has been caused by a combination of climate change factors, reduced ownership of mosquito nets, refugee influx in certain regions, and movement of populations from high burden areas to low burden areas.

However, evidence gathered by the Ministry of Health surveillance teams shows that 85 per cent of the people living in Kampala who tested positive for malaria had traveled to a district outside the city.

Up to 28, 086 cases of malaria have been reported in Kampala since June, whereby 60 per cent were severe. While the figures for the positive cases are slightly similar than last year at 27,159 Aceng said 920 of the cases were admissions.

The Head of Malaria control program, Jimmy Opigo on Tuesday echoed what the minister said and explained that between June and August the cases have increased to 1.4 million from 1 million.

“It is peak season of malaria in Uganda. That is why we are recording more cases compared to other quarters,” Opigo said.

Over the last three months, Uganda has faced an unprecedented increase in malaria cases, said Uganda’s Ministry of Health.

However, the June rains seem to have created an even more fertile breeding environment for the mosquitoes that transmit the infectious disease.

The disease is still the leading cause of death in the country, accounting for over 27 percent deaths, mostly of pregnant women and children under five years of age, according to the ministry. 

 

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