PoliticsNews & AnalysisMosquito nets as wedding gowns and fishing nets in Uganda


Posted on Friday, 10 February 2012 18:39

Mosquito nets as wedding gowns and fishing nets in Uganda

By Geof Magga

When Uganda's ministry of health came up with a programme meant to eradicate malaria by giving out free mosquito nets to its citizens, little did its officials know that the nets would be used as fishing nets and for wedding gowns.

Malaria is the number one killer disease in Uganda and more than 100,000 people, mainly children die from it, more than HIV/Aids, according to ministry of health statistics.

A while back, the government came up with a programme to stop malaria, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, supplying free mosquito nets, especially to poor people in rural areas who could not afford them.

An official at the health ministry, Ken Mugasha said the programme saw a vast number of mosquito nets supplied countrywide. "We gave out at least three to four mosquito nets per family" he said. "But unfortunately, they are misused."

"They removed the mosquito nets from the beds and are now using them to catch fish."

This has led to the failure of the malaria intervention programme among fishing communities in the country. And as the cost of living in the East African country soars, so has the cost of marriage, giving rise to a new phenomenon.

They removed the mosquito nets from the beds and are now using them to catch fish

The health official said some women have resorted to using mosquito nets to make wedding gowns for brides. Most of these wedding dresses are rented out to brides.

And faced with such examples of mosquito net misuse, the country's Minister of Relief and Disaster Preparedness, Musa Ecweru has expressed concern about the waste of resources.

Ecweru said he was shocked when he found people using mosquito nets to catch fish. "It is unfortunate that mosquito nets supplied to prevent malaria infection are used for fishing. We have to educate the people," he said.

Nonetheless, he emphasised that government will not tolerate such waste.

Uganda has one of the highest levels of malaria infection in Africa and with most malaria patients living in the remotest of areas of the country, where hospitals are too far.

The World Health Organisation says over 30 000 children die each year of malaria related deaths in Uganda. But observers say it is difficult to keep track of the real numbers of malaria deaths as most victims live in isolated areas where there is a lack of proper data.

These revelations come days after the Lancet, a British science journal, announced that twice as many people fall prey to the disease as previously thought.

Last Updated on Friday, 10 February 2012 19:36

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