Uganda losses huge sums of money to malaria: minister

26 Apr 2006
People's Daily
Ugandan Minister of Health, Jim Muhwezi said in a statement issued to mark the annual Africa Malaria Day on Tuesday that government losses 690 million dollars to malaria including all costs like transport to a health unit or drug shop, special food requirements, time one spends not going to work because he or she is sick or attending to the sick.

This year's theme of Africa Malaria Day is "Universal Access to effective malaria treatment is a human right". Malaria is a life threatening parasitic disease transmitted from person to person through the bite of a female anopheles mosquito and kills about one million Africans annually.

Malaria accounts for much morbidity and mortality in Uganda. Ugandan families spend on average one tenth of their meager incomes treating malaria. World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that malaria kills an African child every thirty seconds. The most vulnerable people are pregnant women, children aged less than five years, people living with HIV and travelers from areas with little or no malaria transmission to areas with high transmission.

According to ministry of health statistics, 70,000 to 110,000 malaria-specific deaths occur every year in Uganda and 20-30 percent of deaths among children under five admitted to health facilities is caused by malaria.

Following this alarming situation, Muhwezi said the ministry has embarked on various programs to fight the killer disease. He said government has increased access to health care facilities, aimed to make every parish have a functional health unit.

He noted that government expenditure in health has progressively increased from 9 percent in 2000 to 12 percent in 2005. In addition, the country has accesses more resources through the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Muhwezi also noted that access to prompt and effective malaria treatment has been improved through implementation of the Home Based Management of Fever Strategy. "In each village throughout the country, two volunteers have been trained to distribute the first line anti-malarial package," said Muhwezi.