The Ministry of Health has introduced a novel approach called “larvicide” in the Ankole Sub-region. Malaria remains a significant public health challenge in the country, with over 12 million reported cases annually. It’s estimated that three out of every ten individuals in Uganda suffer from malaria.
The larvicide is a type of insecticide designed to control mosquitoes by targeting their larvae, both indoors and outdoors. This new approach aims to disrupt the mosquito life cycle at an early stage, ultimately reducing the transmission of malaria.
During the launch of this initiative in Mitooma District, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Diana Atwine, expressed optimism that malaria transmission would gradually decrease with the implementation of the larvicide method. Dr. Alfred Mubangizi, the programs officer of vector-borne and neglected tropical diseases at the ministry, represented her during the event.
Dr. Atwine emphasized the ministry’s commitment to reducing malaria throughout the country. While various interventions such as distributing insecticide-treated nets and indoor residual spraying have proven effective for indoor control, mosquitoes can still pose a threat when individuals are outside their homes. Therefore, the Ministry of Health has adopted a new method involving herbal medicine (larvicide) applied to mosquito breeding areas like swamps and stagnant water, targeting mosquito larvae.
It’s important to note that this larvicide exclusively targets mosquito larvae and is not harmful to humans or aquatic animals. The ministry plans to ensure widespread distribution of larvicide to areas with high malaria prevalence.
Dr. Mubangizi explained that the powdered larvicide is derived from chlorophyll found in plants. When applied to mosquito breeding habitats, it effectively eliminates the larvae before they mature into adult mosquitoes. This approach capitalizes on the larval stage when mosquitoes are most vulnerable and voracious feeders.
Similar programs have already been launched in Kigezi and Lango sub-regions. The larvicide has received approval from both the National Environmental Authority and National Drug Authority, attesting to its safety and effectiveness.
Mr. Vincent Katamba, a senior entomologist at the Ministry of Health, is leading the larvicide program. He outlined the collaborative effort with village chiefs and village health teams to identify suitable breeding sites. These sites are selected based on being fixed, easily accessible, and limited in number. In cases where breeding sites exist within homes, communities can play a role in identifying and eliminating mosquito larvae.
The larvicide is applied at a rate of six milligrams per square meter of breeding ground. Dr. Sadic Byamugisha, the district health officer, sees this new tool as a significant step towards reducing the malaria burden, particularly in regions neighboring Queen Elizabeth National Park. In Mitooma, where malaria prevalence is as high as 43 percent, the combination of indoor and outdoor interventions holds the promise of alleviating the malaria burden.