Government has dispatched technical teams to northern Uganda to assess the malaria outbreak in which 31 people have died in one week in Oyam district.
The Minister of State for Health, Hon. Dr. Chris Baryomunsi said the Ministry was still carrying out indoor residual spraying of malaria causing agents – mosquitoes and had also sent large quantities of anti-malarials and laboratory reagents to the region.
“The political leaders will follow the technical teams (Friday). We will go there and assess whether the chemicals we are using are not effective such that we come up with an intervention,” said Dr. Baryomunsi.
Oyam district woman representative, Hon. Santa Alum Ogwang who raised the issue said 31 people had died and over 12,000 admitted in various health centres in the district.
She also said that the Blood Bank in Gulu could not sufficiently cater for anemic cases in Oyam.
“We appeal to the Ministry of Health and UNICEF to come to our rescue; we shall get finished if they do not come to our rescue,” said Hon. Ogwang.
Hon. Jack Wamanga Wamai (FDC, Mbale Municipality) said the Ministry needed to send in more teams to the area and appeal for assistance from World Health Organisation considering that the case was an emergency.
The Opposition Chief Whip, Hon. Cecilia Ogwal (FDC, Dokolo) wondered why the malarial outbreak affected Oyam district, which had embraced indoor residual spraying and had shown success against the disease.
“Oyam should have been a model district,” she said, adding “Is there abuse or misuse of the chemicals used in indoor spraying, or the Ministry teams are selling the chemicals, which are diluted hence making them ineffective?”
Hon. Gilbert Olanya (Ind., Kilak) said cases of malaria had increased when the IRS was stopped and wondered when government would resume the spraying.
Minister Baryomunsi said the resurgence of malaria in Northern Uganda had been reported to the Ministry, which was using three approaches including IRS, treatment and distribution of insecticide treated mosquito nets.
“IRS changes immunity status of individuals. When spraying is stopped, there is a surge in infections,” he said adding “The chemicals we are using are safe for humans.”
He said government would bring back debate on the use of DDT for Parliament to take a decision on its use.