The East African country has the 3rd highest global burden of malaria cases (5%) and the 8th highest level of deaths (3%) with the highest proportion of malaria cases in East and Southern Africa 23.7% according to the 2019 World Malaria Report of the World Health Organisation.
Research evidence shows that Uganda has a stable, perennial malaria transmission in 95 percent of the country, with Anopheles gambiae s.l. and an. funestus s.l. being the most common malaria vectors.
Despite this, the country has made gains in so far prolonged robust and multipronged interventions.
A recent World Malaria Report shows that between 2016 and 2019, the estimated number of malaria cases decreased 7.2%, from 283 to 263 per 1 000 000 of the population at risk, while deaths fell 9.5% from 0.34 to 0.31 per 1000 of the population at risk over the same period.
However, in 2019, malaria cases increased in comparison to 2018 as the transmission peak was untypically long due to increased rains and the ageing of mosquito nets distributed in 2017/2018.
But President Museveni said Uganda has “been a bit leisurely in our handling of Malaria.” He contends that Ugandans have lived with Malaria for centuries but have not been as scared as of Coronavirus or with Ebola.
“In the case of Uganda, without a very acute health problem like the one of Ebola, corona, we were diverted with so many other things. Initially, we were engaged in the minimum recovery of the economy, we are now struggling with development and transformation but we actually take it up. And I would want to look at the figures. Supposing we eliminated Malaria and we reduce it to zero, how much would we save?” President Museveni.
He further observes that Malaria can be defeated citing that while the use of chemicals is good, he worries about their inefficiency since malaria-causing parasites Plasmodium mutates and becomes immune to the therapeutics.
“We used to have Quinine therapy, I don’t know what happened to it. Then we had Chloroquine, I hear that it no longer affects Malaria. Whatever we are using now, the question is why should we preserve it? Why don’t we get rid of these mosquitoes? Or immunize people so that they become immune from the plasmodium?” President Museveni asked scientists.
The president cites an example of the Guinea worm disease, a neglected tropical disease that disturbed many African countries including Uganda because many people used to consume unsafe drinking water.
“If you cleaned the water, that was the end of Guinea worm. The same with Malaria. We are looking at the larvae side. Killing the larvae of the mosquito. The other area is the insecticides treated mosquito nets.”
Globally, 40 countries and territories have been granted a malaria-free certification from WHO – including, most recently, El Salvador (2021), Algeria (2019), Argentina (2019), Paraguay (2018) and Uzbekistan (2018).