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Increasing Malaria Prevalence Worries Lira Medics

Dr. Patrick Buchan Ocen, the Lira District Health Officer (DHO) attributes this high prevalence to changes in weather patterns, which have provided a favorable breeding place for mosquitoes. He adds that the mosquito vectors have also become resistant to chemicals being used for IRS.

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Medical personnel in Lira district and city are worried over the increasing prevalence of malaria, which now stands at 54%. Malaria prevalence in lira had dropped to 18 percent due to control strategies including the regular application of microbial or chemical insecticides to water bodies to kill the aquatic immature forms of the mosquito, Indoor Residual Spray (IRS), and the use of long-lasting treated mosquito nets.

However, after the last IRS activity in May 2022, both Lira City and District have seen an upsurge in malaria prevalence from 18 to 54 %, meaning that of every 100 persons tested at any health facility, at least 54 have malaria parasite. 

For example, Alik HCIII in Erute South Health Sub-district sees 1,650 malarial cases in a month and records between 66 to 70 cases per week. The most affected are expectant mothers and children between the ages of 4 to 10, according to Health officials. 

Anyes Akullo, the in-charge says Alik Health center is a border facility serving Lira, Kwania, Kole, and Dokolo districts and as a result, it has a high burden of malaria cases which in turn stretches the staff. "The high burden of malaria is constraining our health workers because mush as Alik has been upgraded to level III, the staffing level is very low meaning that the key staffs are not there," he said.

Dr. Patrick Buchan Ocen, the Lira District Health Officer (DHO) attributes this high prevalence to changes in weather patterns, which have provided a favorable breeding place for mosquitoes. He adds that the mosquito vectors have also become resistant to chemicals being used for IRS.

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According to Ocen, the district will soon deploy 20 drones to fight the mosquitoes from their breeding sites. The drones, which were procured by the Ministry of Health through funding from the Egyptian Government will be used to target and spray water bodies rich in mosquito larvae.

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The district will also introduce Integrated Community Case management where village Health Teams (VHTs) will be equipped with knowledge and skills to diagnose and treat malaria at the household level.

But Mercy Abur, a resident of Ober Kampala in Lira City West Division is doubtful as to whether the spraying will be successful. She wants the government to consider the regular distribution of mosquito nets instead of any form of spraying.

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Susan Akello, a mother of four and a resident of Amuca ward in Lira City West Division, says that members of her household are suffering from Malaria despite having sprayed her houses. Akello, who says she spends roughly Shillings 40,000 on treating each household member describes IRS as a "useless program that should be stopped because it has no impact.

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Morris Okello a resident of Ireda Agali, Lira City East Division has resorted to using pawpaw smoke to keep mosquitoes at bay because his house has never been sprayed because he is allergic.

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In 2020, approximately 970,000 malaria cases were identified and treated in Lango, 79% of which were adults, and 21% were children under 5 years.

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