The Demographic and Health Survey people have just released the preliminary MIS results for Uganda. From the viewpoint to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there are cautiously positive signs.
Insecticide treated bednet ownership by households has reached 90%. Equity appears to have been achieved with the households in the lowest, second and third wealth quintiles registering 92%, 94% and 93% ownership. The highest and next highest quintiles had 85% and 88% ownership respectively. Those in the higher wealth quintiles often have better quality housing that of itself offers preventive benefits.
An interesting number is that over 86% of households obtained their nets through campaigns. It appears that the catch up phase of net distribution is repeating itself and the more sustainable keep up phase where nets are provided through routine services has not taken effect.
Household ownership of at least one net translates into use by only 69% of residents generally, and still only 74% in homes that actually own a net. Net use by ‘vulnerable groups’ was a bit better: 74% for children below five years of age and 75& for pregnant women. Thus we can see that household ownership does not guarantee that we meet the 2010 target of 80% coverage/use.
We have moved from recommending two doses of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine as intermittent preventive treatment for malaria in pregnancy to three or more. The MIS does not report on increased doses but even for two contacts, only 25% of recently pregnant women in Uganda were covered.
The results show that malaria prevention is still an elusive goal. Thirty per cent of children given malaria rapid diagnostic tests during the survey had malaria parasite antigens. We must invest more in ensuring that preventive interventions are routinely available and are actually used before our attention is diverted from the MDGs to the SDGs.