The Ministry of health and Kibuku district local government have finally resolved the feud over indoor residual spraying [IRS].
A meeting held at the district headquarters yesterday saw the district council leaders allow use of IRS in the district and declaration to willingly mobilise and sensitise the masses to accept all government programmes
The Ministry of Health introduced Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) in Kibuku district in 2014 in a bid to intensify efforts towards the management of the Malaria epidemic.
According to the ministry of health, the exercise was intended to contribute to the objective of achieving and sustaining protection of at least 85% of the population at risk of malaria through recommended Malaria prevention measures by 2017.
But a council sitting in December 2022 passed a resolution opposing the government’s Indoor Residual Spraying programme saying it was not an effective strategy to fight high malaria cases in Kibuku district.
For close to two years since 2002, the council leaders mobilised the communities to protest against IRS by chasing away the government partners involved in the IRS program making it difficult to implement.
Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) is the application of a long-lasting residual insecticide to potential malaria vector resting surfaces such as internal walls, eaves and ceilings of all houses or structures (including domestic animal shelters) where such malaria vectors might come into contact with the insecticide.
In a mini-council meeting held yesterday shortly before the address by the minister of Health Ms Jane Ruth Achen, the council still opposed the IRS programme insisting that they don’t see any impact and that IRS has caused bed bugs, abortions among women, made men non-virile, dirtied house walls and increased deaths in children by causing other diseases like anemia, malnutrition etc
Dr Jane Ruth Achen, the minister of health who presided over the 23 January [Yesterday] meeting described the accusations as baseless, misconceptions that have not been proven by the people of Kibuku and the district council.
“Leaders here had politicised the government programme, they have been using it to gain political capital, let the men who are non-virile come here to testify, there is no government that can bring a programme that kills its own people, it is not there,” Dr Achen told the meeting at Kibuku district headquaters yesterday.
“Since you refused the programme, has malaria stopped killing people and lead by example in Kibuku? As leaders you must provide a solution, lead by example and stop inciting people to protest against government programs,” she added.
While addressing the meeting Dr Achen said IRS is a proven and highly effective malaria control measure to kill mosquitoes, thereby interrupting malaria transmission and that the method relies on the fact that the most malaria vectors enter houses during the night to feed on the occupants and rest on the walls or roofs prior to and/or after feeding. If the wall or roof is treated with an effective residual insecticide, the mosquitoes will pick up a lethal dose as it rests.
“Before the medicine is send out for use, vigorous research is done, tests are made and the World Health Organisation [WHO] approves it. IRS ent through all this and it is a safe medicine but don eat it, don’t spray on food,” said Dr Achen.
A recent Malaria Indicator Survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, IRS has proven to be a very effective Malaria prevention strategy and has rapidly reduced malaria out-patient attendances, in-patient case admission and malaria test positivity rates in all the districts where it has been implemented.
Indoor Residual Spraying additionally controls other household pests such as bedbugs, cockroaches, houseflies, lice, fleas and others, making it cost effective and acceptable to the communities as they spend less on treatment of other related diseases.
Dr Achen pleaded with the people of Kibuku and the leadership not to continue dying but accept the IRS ‘ my people of Kibuku please don’t die of malaria, let us allow IRS,”
Dr Jimmy Opigo, the assistant commissioner health services [National Malaria Prevention programme] named the districts with the highest cases of malaria in the east here as Kibuku, Serere and Omolatar.
While presenting a situational report [SITREP] 2023 highlighting malaria burden in the country, Dr Opigo said due to climate change there is an increase in the people suffering from malaria.
Dr Godfrey Buyinza, the Kibuku District Health Officer consented there was a high burden of malaria in Kibuku adding that the OPD attendance stands at more than 60% while the positivity rate stands at more than 70%.
When asked to address the meeting, the LCV chairan Mr Muhammad Nakeba called his vice chairperson of the council and members of the district executive Committtee and said they had myths and misconceptions about the programme previously.
“And I want to declare that we shall not fight the government programme but will join the ministry of health and government partners to engage our people, sensitise them to accept IRS to end malaria, we shall also be involved in other government programmes to benefit our people,” said Mr Nakeba sending the meeting into jubilations.
Ministry of health says that the IRS strategy is being used in addition to other malaria prevention strategies such as the use of long lasting Insecticide Treated bed nets, case management, Intermittent Preventive Treatment in Pregnancy (IPTp), Surveillance, Monitoring and Evaluation, Research, Epidemic Preparedness/Response and Behaviour Change Communication.
Dr Achen appealed to the general public, especially those in the affected areas to observe the following;
- Sleep under an insecticide treated bed net for protecting against mosquito bites
- Destroy all breeding places for malaria vectors by slashing compound and removing all dirty waters among others
- Those already diagnosed with Malaria are requested to complete the dose of anti-Malarials given to them
- Work closely with the Village Health Teams to monitor and report cases to health facilities.