Government is scheduled to roll out Indoor Residual Spraying-IRS in the next two weeks in Acholi and Lango sub regions. Dr. Patrick Tumusiime, the Commissioner National Disease Control-NDC, says IRS will target Gulu, Omoro, Nwoya, Oyam, Kole, Amuru, Pader, Kitgum, Agago, Apac and Lamwo districts among others.
Tumusiime told a high level stake holders meeting at Boma Hotel mid this week that Shillings 35 billion has been set aside for the exercise. He disclosed the chemicals that will be used for the spraying exercise are already in the country and asked District Health Officers in the selected district to prepare stores for safe custody of the chemicals.
Jimmy Opigo, the Program Manager, National Malaria Control Programme in the Ministry of Health, says there was a reduction of malaria cases from 65 percent to 7.5 percent in the five years IRS was used in Lango and Acholi regions. He however, since April last year, malaria alone accounts for 40 percent of outpatient visits to all health facilities in the region.
According to Opigo, 80 percent of people with fever test positive for malaria. He says the high incidences of malaria have affected productivity among the local population. Dr. Emannuel Otto, the Agago District Health Officer, who representatives DHOs from the selected districts, says the major challenge to fighting malaria in the region is drug stock out and inadequate number of staff to attend to the high number of patients.
According to Otto, Agago alone registers 20,000 cases of malaria each month. He says much as IRS is being reintroduced, there is need to plan for an exit strategy so that there isn’t any resurgence. Dr. Joyce Moriku Kaduchu, the Primary Health Care State Minister, pledged to work with National Medical Stores to improve drug supply and case management in high malaria burden districts.
She urged residents to embrace IRS saying it is only targeting mosquito parasites and not humans. She also disclosed that UNICEF has released Shillings 7.2 billion under the DFID project to procure malaria commodities for the 11 disease burden districts in the region.