For over three weeks in November, a concerted effort is underway to combat malaria in three sub-counties of Kalaki, a district in Eastern Uganda. The decision to implement indoor residual spraying (IRS) in these areas stems from the alarming prevalence of malaria within the region.
Starting on November 6, the IRS program will be executed for 25 days in the sub-counties of Ogwolo, Anyara, and Bululu. Harriet Miriam Atim, the Assistant District Health Officer of Kalaki, explained that these locations were chosen due to their disproportionately high malaria burden.
Local residents residing in these sub-counties are urged to cooperate with the authorities during the intervention, as this collaboration is vital in the fight against malaria within the district. Atim also mentioned that future rounds of spraying will extend to other areas of the district, contingent on the availability of funds.
Uganda holds the unfortunate distinction of having the world’s highest malaria incidence rate, with 478 cases per 1,000 population annually, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The country has faced an escalating malaria crisis since January 2022, with cases continuing to surge throughout the year.
Malaria stands as the foremost cause of illness and mortality in Uganda, responsible for up to 40% of outpatient visits, 25% of hospital admissions, and 14% of all hospital fatalities. Shockingly, the death toll attributed to malaria in Uganda ranges between 70,000 and 100,000 fatalities annually, surpassing even the impact of HIV and AIDS.
Indoor residual spraying represents one of the core strategies endorsed by WHO for malaria control and elimination, alongside the use of insecticide-treated nets. However, two emerging challenges have cast shadows on global malaria control efforts. The first is the emergence of insecticide resistance among Anopheles mosquitoes, and the second pertains to the altered behavior of mosquitoes. These mosquitoes are now biting earlier in the evening, before people retire to bed, and are often found resting outdoors, evading exposure to insecticides.
Statistics at a Glance
The World Malaria Report 2022 provides crucial insights into the global malaria landscape:
- In 2021, there were 47 million reported malaria cases, a notable decline from the 245 million cases recorded in 2020.
- Estimated malaria deaths stood at 619,000 in 2021, down slightly from 625,000 in the preceding year.
- The WHO African Region accounted for roughly 95% of all malaria cases and 96% of malaria-related deaths. Alarmingly, approximately 80% of malaria deaths in the region were among children under five years old.
Furthermore, Uganda’s neighbors in the east and south, namely the Democratic Republic of Congo (12.6%) and Tanzania (4.1%), along with Nigeria (31.3%) and Niger (3.9%), collectively represented over half of all malaria deaths worldwide. These statistics underscore the urgent need for targeted interventions, such as indoor residual spraying, to combat this deadly disease in high-burden areas like the Kalaki sub-counties.