International Cooperation Essential To Help Uganda Fight Malaria
Uganda “has overcome a violent past, but hope is daily threatened by a force more deadly than any warlord or civil unrest”: the mosquito, Ugandan Health Minister Christine Ondoa writes in a GlobalPost opinion piece. According to the WHO, “Uganda has the highest incidence of malaria in the world,” and the disease is endemic in more than 95 percent of the country, she notes. Malaria “deeply affect[s]” Uganda’s economy, Ondoa says, noting Ugandans spend 25 percent of their incomes to treat and prevent the disease; children miss “countless school days,” and the disease renders some developmentally impaired after becoming infected. “As a result of these tremendous losses, African economists estimate that, if unchecked, malaria’s toll on Uganda’s annual GDP will rise over the next five years to as much as $3.2 billion,” she states.
Like the recent outbreak of Ebola, “[m]alaria’s unbearable toll on Uganda should be considered a national emergency, and its eradication should be an effort that galvanizes significant national and international resources,” Ondoa writes, adding, “Malaria can be defeated with a combination of mosquito control, mass screening and prompt diagnosis, treatment, research, and public education.” She continues, “The political will to tackle malaria is stronger than ever in my country,” but “[i]nternational partnerships to increase operational capacity and provide funding are critical.” Noting “[t]he current malaria burden costs Uganda $600 million each year,” Ondoa concludes, “Spending a healthy fraction of this amount on proven interventions to combat the disease would be a smart investment in Uganda’s future” (10/12).