Malaria in Uganda
Malaria is a life-threatening parasitic disease transmitted by mosquitoes. It is a preventable, treatable disease that’s not being prevented or treated effectively in Mbarara, Uganda, due to lack of money, lack of facilities and infrastructure, and lack of training.
Facts about malaria in Uganda
- Malaria is Africa’s leading cause of death for children under five years old.
- Malaria is endemic in 95% of Uganda. Nearly half of hospital in-patient deaths among children under five are attributed to clinical malaria.
- Malaria accounts for 70,000-110,000 child deaths annually in Uganda.
- Malaria accounts for 40% of Ugandan public health expenditure, 30-50% of inpatient admissions, and up to 50% of outpatient visits in areas with high malaria transmission.
- With acute disease a child may die within 24 hours.
- In industry and agriculture, malaria accounts for more than 50% of all man hours lost. This affects production and revenue for the industry, families and the nation. Malaria is therefore a leading cause not only of ill health and death in Uganda but also of poverty.
- The number of clinical malaria diagnoses reported by the public health services has been increasing in recent years, particularly for children under five.
- Uganda’s annual per capita income is $240. This leaves little money to build hospitals or pay for anti-malarial preventive measures.
- Malaria is eminently treatable. Children can be saved if immediate hospitalization and treatment is available for one week. Our fully burdened cost to treat a child for malaria is about ten dollars per day. The cost to purchase, deliver and train families to use highly effective insecticide-treated mosquito netting is only $5.00 per net.
Respiratory infection is the second-highest cause of death in children under 5 in Uganda. Twenty-one percent of all under-5 deaths in Uganda are due to respiratory infection. According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, early diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics can prevent a large proportion of deaths caused by respiratory infection.
After malaria and respiratory infection, dysentery is the most prevalent cause of death in children under 5 in Uganda. Seventeen percent of all under-5 deaths in Uganda are due to dehydration brought on by dysentery, even though dysentery can be easily treated with oral rehydration therapy. In the southwest region of Uganda, where Mbarara is located, only half of children with dysentery are currently treated by health providers. Holy Innocents Children’s Hospital now provides additional capacity to treat these children.