Between 2010 and 2015, the rate of new malaria cases in fell by 21 percent around the world. Similarly, in Uganda, positive malaria tests decreased by 22.6 percent between 2013 and 2016 in the 14 districts where an Abt Associates-led malaria project works.
The USAID-funded, Abt-led Uganda IRS project Phase II – a five-year effort ending later this year – has protected more than 3.8 million people in the current 14 IRS districts in eastern and northern Uganda, including more than 100,000 pregnant women and 1 million children, from malaria, said Deborah R. Malac, the U.S. ambassador to Uganda, during a recent visit.
“Fewer malaria cases translate into healthier societies, increased school attendance, more productive communities, and stronger economies,” Malac said.
The disease kills approximately 80,000 people each year in Uganda and is linked to approximately $200 million in productivity losses annually.
A central strategy Uganda IRS II is indoor residual spraying (IRS), the application of insecticide to the inside of dwellings, on walls and other surfaces that serve as a resting place for malaria-infected mosquitoes.
New Insectary to Help Monitor Mosquitoes
Malac visited two districts in eastern Uganda to see the results of the project and open a renovated insectary in Tororo, a facility that allows entomologists to study the effectiveness of different insecticides on malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes develop resistance to insecticides over time, so Uganda IRS II must adjust its insecticide use to ensure that malaria remains in retreat.
The government of Uganda contributed to the construction of the insectary and is supporting the staff working in it, while the project invested more than $30,000 in the facility. Malac’s visit to Tororo was featured on national TV in Uganda.
Local Support Needed to Maintain Momentum
Since 2009 – when Uganda IRS Phase I began – these two Abt-led projects have protected approximately 6.8 million people from malaria in northern and eastern Uganda, including more than 500,000 children under five each spray round and more than 800,000 pregnant women cumulatively.
In the northern districts covered by Uganda IRS Phase I, IRS contributed to a 55 percent reduction in malaria infection rates between 2009 and 2014.
But extra effort will be required to further reduce malaria prevalence – in particular additional funding from Uganda, Malac said.
“We hope local officials will continue to support the research in this insectary long after our investment has ceased,” she said.