Just off the Masaka to Kampala road lies Kyamuyimbwa, a town of 22,000. Imelda’s house sits along the main road, right in the middle of town. The road is busy and so when we arrive to speak to Imelda about her experiences dealing with malaria, she leads us to the back of the house where she has begun preparing lunch. Her son Kirembeka watches on, eager to fill his stomach with matoke, a banana-based dish, steam cooked and mashed.
While lunch cooks, we settle down to learn more about Imelda’s story. Like anywhere else in Uganda, her town is forced to contend with the threat of malaria every day. Unfortunately, Imelda’s understands this more than most.
Imelda lost her first child, Maria, a few weeks after she was born. She had contracted malaria during her pregnancy which led to maternal anaemia. In turn, while her baby was born, it had a very low weight and sadly passed away.
“In my first pregnancy I was not aware, I didn’t have Fansidar (preventive malaria treatment) and I did not have a mosquito net and my baby sadly passed after she was born”.
When Imelda became pregnant again, she was able to receive support from her local health centre which, with the support of Malaria Consortium, had been upskilling its nurses and health workers on how to effectively deal with cases of malaria in pregnant women and educate local women about the threat the disease poses and how to prevent it.
“At first, I was scared of taking the medicine [Fansidar] but once the health workers explained the benefit, I was able to take it without fear”.
While we’re speaking with Imelda, a few of her neighbours congregate around to see what all the commotion is about. Imelda nods towards them as she explains that her experience and increased knowledge has been beneficial to them as she has passed on her knowledge.
Malaria Consortium, through USAID’s Malaria Action Program for Districts, has supported the health centre in Kyamuyimbwa to develop its services for pregnant to fight malaria. Firstly, long-lasting insecticide treated nets have been provided to the centre to be distributed to all mothers who attend for antenatal care. Secondly, Malaria Consortium has provided on–site mentorship of health workers, ensuring they are knowledgable about the disease, how to test and treat for malaria and educate mothers who attend the centre. In addition, a water vessel has been installed to enable mothers to take preventive treatment while at the facility which in turn improves adherence.
Malaria Consortium leads USAID’s Malaria Action Program for Districts across 43 districts in Uganda to protect and improve the health of vulnerable mothers, babies and children. You can learn more about the project here
Ashley Giles is Senior Communications Officer at Malaria Consortium.
All photos by Edward Echwalu.