Children in Kabarole and Bunyangabu districts have revealed that their parents have denied them a chance to sleep under the mosquito treated nets to prevent malaria.
In April 2017, the government of Uganda through the Ministry of health distributed free mosquito treated nets to all households with the aim of kicking malaria out of the country.
But to the dismay some parents in Kabarole and Bunyangabu districts have denied their children an opportunity to sleep in these mosquito nets and resorted to keeping them in suitcases while others put them under their mattresses.
PLATFORM for the NEEDY (PLANE) and Kabarole district health authorities in partnership with Program for Accessible Communication Education (PACE) Uganda, a health non-governmental organization mid this year embarked on using the drama approach moving around the sub counties and town councils in the districts of Kabarole and Bunyangabu that have high number of people suffering from malaria.
The campaign dubbed: “Community Campaign for Social Mobilization” is aimed at creating awareness among children in primary schools and communities on the proper usage of the nets to prevent malaria using the drama approach.
The drama, in its sensitization malaria package depicts on prevention of malaria through sleeping under treated mosquito nets, clearing the bush around homes, checking before getting treatment, the national and global consequences of malaria.
During the drama sensitization campaign at Busiita primary in Bunyangabu some pupils disclosed that their parents refused to give them the recently distributed mosquito nets.
“My parents received four (4) mosquito nets but kept them in the suitcases. They refused to give us the nets. They said they are harmful to our health,” Said a P.2 girl.
Campline Dolice the Head teacher said, “Cases of pupils failing sick because of malaria are common here. It has affected the children’s performance. Government needs to roll out sensitization meeting for parents since they’re responsible and authoritative”.
At Kiamara Primary in Busoro sub county, the pupils revealed that the parents denied them the mosquito nets and hide them under the mattresses. Others disclosed that the parents had sold off the mosquito nets putting them at the risk of getting sick.
“We don’t sleep under the mosquito nets. Our parents kept the nets under the mattresses and we always fail sick,” Said a pupil.
Another said, “Our parents got the nets and kept them. My mother refused to give us the nets and said she doesn’t know to use it”.
The school head teacher Kiamara primary Mr. Katuramu Francis said, “In our school, cases of malaria are rampant. Every day at least 50 children are absent due to malaria and this has affected their performance in class”.
Katuramu however commended PLANE and PACE for the initiation to sensitize the pupils but called on them and the government to intensify the campaigns in communities targeting the parents.
Mr. Kahuma Amos the head teacher Kitumba primary school narrated that malaria has severely affected pupils’ performance in schools.
“I ask the parents to style up, taking the message of proper usage of the mosquito nets to save lives of their children and expenditure on treating this preventable disease. I request PACE and its partners to intensify the campaign in the villages to educate our people on proper usage of the nets,” Katuramu said.
The RDC Kabarole Mr. Asiimwe Steven attributes the high rate of teachers’ and pupils absenteeism in schools to their failure to sleep under mosquito nets to prevent malaria.
“I strongly warn parents against misusing these mosquito nets. We ask you to give these kids nets so as to live healthier and absenteeism and poor performance will be history,”Asiimwe Said.
RDC said, “ 70 percent of the sickness in Africa and Uganda in particular are due to malaria and other preventable diseases like cholera, typhoid, bilharzia but the challenge our people are ignorant, lazy and lack information. I thank PACE and PLANE for the drama approach that pulls masses and conveys messages instantly but I appeal to them to establish health clubs for sustainability of the project to help children recite these health messages”.
Dr. Obet Richard DHO Bunyangabu said the district is to carry out an operation to arrest all people found misusing mosquito nets. We are disappointed by some people who received the nets but have failed to use them properly and this explains why malaria continues to affect them”.
The Kabarole District Health Educator, Catherine Kemigabo said the drama approach has seen the number of patients with malaria reduce by 50 percent at the district health facilities since the start of the program.
“At least we have experienced a reduction of patients complaining of malaria due to the sensitization by the drama group about malaria prevention through sleeping under treated mosquito nets and people are allowed to ask questions, “ Kemigabo Said.
She added that the drama sessions are a good approach because they have attracted people especially pregnant mothers and men who have been sensitized on how to use mosquito nets.
Sam Mugisha, the Programs Manager PLANE revealed that this is a one year projectand they are moving in all primary schools and communities around Kabarole and Bunyangabu districts creating awareness on how to use mosquito nets to prevent the spread of malaria.
He said they have so far covered 28 primary schools, 2 secondary schools and 32 communities.
Kabarole district has a total of 63 government aided primary schools while Bunyangabu district has 61 schools.
The National Population Hosing Census report 2014 indicates that, in Kabarole district 94.4 percent of households own mosquito nets and 97 percent had received free mosquito nets from government.
This year (2017), out of 635,320 mosquito nets that were received by Kabarole district from government through Ministry of Health, 530, 924 were distributed while 2,764 mosquito nets were returned to the ministry, according to Dr.Richard Mugahi the District Health Officer.