Uganda rushes to combat malaria epidemic

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Hundreds of health workers have been dispatched to northern Uganda to combat a malaria outbreak that has hit more than a million people, an official said Tuesday.

Since July, 658 people have died in Northern Region, large parts of which are recovering from a 20-year insurgency that saw medics leave due to poor pay and conditions.

In a statement, Dr. Asuman Lukwago, Permanent Secretary at the Health Ministry, said 1,005,632 had been infected.

As well as sending 374 doctors, nurses and clinical officers, the Ministry has set aside 22 billion Ugandan shillings (US$6.34 million) for spraying mosquito breeding grounds in ten affected districts. The spraying offers protection for six months and the region was last treated in October 2014.

Anti-malarial drugs and mosquito nets had helped reduce infection rates.

There has been a steady decline in registered cases but Lukwago said the outbreak ‘continues to ravage people in the region”. He added: “The malaria epidemic will be brought to an end soon.’

Malaria is the major cause of death in Uganda, with up to 100,000 dying from the disease every year. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported 438,000 malaria deaths in the world last year.

Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 89% of malaria cases and 91% of deaths in 2015, according to the WHO.

Written by Halima Athumani and Kristoff Saunders. This story was sourced from the News Fulton County website.

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