Malaria has for the second year in a row remained the leading cause of morbidity among people of all ages in Gulu district and Gulu city.
Reports released by Gulu district Bio-statistician show that a total of 226,995 patients (87,374 males and 139,621 females) were diagnosed with malaria in the first quarter of the financial year 2020/2021.
This is out of 745,713 total diagnoses conducted in all health facilities in the district and city.
The figure presented shows a slight increment in malaria positivity cases compared to the financial year 2018/2019 where 202,109 patients (27 per cent) were diagnosed with malaria.
The report also shows that malaria topped as the leading cause of In-patient admissions at health facilities with 11,147 cases registered (5,557 males and 5,590 females) accounting for 19.2 percent.
The disease according to the report accounted for a total of 137 deaths (80 males and 57 females), with Pneumonia topping the list of the top ten causes of mortality in all ages claiming 141 lives followed by Anemia which accounted for 140 deaths. Other causes of mortality were respiratory distress that claimed 120 lives, other cardiovascular diseases 118 deaths, and neonatal sepsis (0-7 days) claiming 102 lives.
Yoweri Idiba, the Assistant Gulu District Health Officer says the positivity rate is higher in the rural communities at 38 per cent while the city centres registered only 18 percent of the total cases of malaria. Idiba attributes the rise in malaria cases to a number of factors including, failure to clear bushy areas within rural homesteads, backfilling of burrow pits that accumulate stagnant water, and negligence on the proper usage of treated mosquito nets.
“The rural areas have bushes and several stagnant water points which aid faster multiplication of mosquitoes. The locals in this community stay out for long and get prone to bites from infected mosquitoes. The culture of sleeping in mosquito nets is still not fully embraced,” he said.
He however faulted locals for misusing mosquito nets distributed to them by the health ministry for fencing vegetable gardens and keeping poultry.
Idiba says the district health department intends to heighten environmental sanitation campaigns to see that bushes and stagnant waters in the rural communities are destroyed.
He adds that they are also encouraging locals in both the city and rural areas to embrace the use of long-lasting treated mosquito nets, especially expectant mothers and children to lower the risks of being bitten by infected mosquitoes.
“Our plan is to ensure people clean up their environment to reduce hiding and breeding places for mosquitoes and if they embrace the use of mosquito nets, there will be limited cases of malaria disease,” he told Uganda Radio Network in an interview.
In Uganda, clinically diagnosed malaria is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality, accounting for 30-50 percent of outpatient visits at health facilities, 15-20 percent of all hospital admissions, and up to 20 percent of all hospital deaths according to the health ministry overview of the disease between 2014 and 2020.
According to the 2019 World Malaria Report of the World Health Organisation-WHO, the country had the third-highest global burden of malaria cases (5 percent) and the 8th highest level of deaths (3 per cent) with the highest proportion of malaria cases in East and Southern Africa at 23.7 percent. URN