Uganda: MPs Call for Malaria Commission

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The Parliamentary Forum on Malaria has called for the establishment of a Uganda Malaria Commission, modelled after the Uganda Aids Commission to intensify the fight against Malaria.

Currently, 99 out of every 1,000 children born in Uganda annually die from malaria according to the 2011 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey. The overall malaria-specific mortality is estimated to be between 70,000 and 100,000 deaths annually, a death toll that exceeds that of HIV/Aids.

"The commission should have its own vote in Parliament and, therefore, its own budgetary line in upcoming budget negotiations," said Moses Balyeku, chairperson of the Parliamentary Forum on Malaria.

Balyeku (MP Jinja municipality West), was speaking at the United against Malaria (UAM) business symposium at the Sheraton Kampala hotel. UAM is an alliance of African football, health and advocacy organizations, governments and private sector partners that has since 2010 been involved in a campaign towards eradicating malaria.

It was also revealed that Uganda is expected to spend approximately $23.4m (Shs 60.8bn) on the estimated 13 million malaria cases in public health facilities this year, a strain on the economy.

"Malaria not only decreases worker productivity and household income, leads to a loss of investment opportunities, but also accounts for 15 per cent of health-related absenteeism from school," added Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka.

She pledged to establish a malaria prevention strategy with a substantive framework for malaria control, including distribution of bed nets, availing cost-effective medicines and awareness of malaria prevention.

Kiwanuka also called for the establishment of a multi-sectoral malaria taskforce involving the private sector in order for Uganda's competitive socio-economic transformation to be fully realized.

Overall, households in Africa annually lose up to 25 per cent of income ($12bn or about Shs 31.2 trillion) in health care costs, as well as 31 working days due to sickness and approximately $104m (Shs 270bn) on premature deaths.

Parliament Budget Committee Chairperson Tim Lwanga agreed that there was a need to supplement the government's 8.8 per cent allocation to health through public-private sector partnerships.

PHOTO: UNMultimedia.org
SOURCE: AllAfrica.com September 19 2013: http://allafrica.com/stories/201309200082.html