Malaria still a big problem in Uganda

Carlos Odora | 25 Apr 2007
New Vision
Malaria kills 320 Ugandans everyday and accounts for the highest percentage of the total number of patients visiting hospitals. There is more money and political will to tackle the disease as observed in the recent creation of the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. However, funds alone will not solve the problem because it is a complex disease and controlling it means that we must use all interventions and that partners must work together.

It is important therefore that if there are lots of people working together, they must be open and transparent. They must also explain how they are going to control the disease and what they are doing to measure success. If they don't do a proper baseline survey and monitor progress, how do we know that they are making progress? How can people change strategies and improve interventions if they aren't monitoring? How can people make promises to African people about controlling the disease (say promising to halve cases and deaths) when they don't measure the effects of available interventions?

Recently, the Africa Fighting Malaria (AFM) group did a survey of the major donors. Most of them did not bother to respond to our repeated requests for information. When they did respond, they gave insufficient information. Most do not monitor progress but make sweeping meaningless statements about the Millennium Development Goals.

Our survey found that USAID was the best performer because there is greater emphasis on monitoring and evaluation. They are far more open and transparent because the US Congress took interest in what they are doing. This level of interest from congress has made them more open and transparent than any other donor agency. Likewise, other legislative organs of various countries that support initiatives to fight malaria need to take interest in how their taxpayers' money is spent.

Malaria is essentially an African problem, therefore African governments need to be better at taking charge of their problems, devoting their own resources to it and being open and transparent with the populations that vote them into power.

The writer is a Fellow at the African Fighting Malaria organisation.