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Editorial: "We Can Handle Malaria"

Original Article

BYLINE: New Vision (Kampala)

DATELINE: May 1, 2000

Kampala - Fever or malaria? The average Ugandan will struggle to tell the difference between the two. This is because malaria, which manifests itself in the form of a fever, is so prevalent in this country that one out of every four sick Ugandans would be suffering from this mosquito-borne disease.

Yet malaria is preventable, treatable and curable. So, with last week's summit on malaria, the first of its kind in the world which drew dozens of African leaders to Nigeria, there could not have been a better antidote to the malaise that kills up to one million Africans every year. The commitment by donors of up to $750 Million to the continent for the fight could, therefore, not have been more timely.

Uganda still struggles with prevention and treatment. At the macro level, measures like malaria control, spraying in urban areas has either stopped, or is inadequate. Simple, inexpensive measures like clearing bushes and draining pools, that could be implemented by civic authorities, are not being practised.

In homes, the use of insecticide-treated bed nets and elimination of stagnant water can dramatically reduce malaria.

Fighting malaria is therefore well within our control if only we looked at it critically. Studies have shown that the cost of treating malaria is much higher than buying a net. Experience has shown that spraying can be successful. The WHO malaria eradication project in the 1950s reduced vector concentrations in Kabale and Rukungiri to almost zero, within a year.

What we need is focus and knowledge.

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