London, 21 February 2011: Malaria Consortium Uganda played host to members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (APPMG) who came on a study tour of the country to learn more about the malaria environment in Uganda and the role of the UK in supporting the fight against the disease.
Jeremy Lefroy, MP for Stafford and Chair of the APPMG, and Group Secretary Pauline Latham, MP for Derby and secretary of the group, travelled to Uganda in January to meet with implementers at district and national level, as well as beneficiaries.
The week of meetings included a field trip to Hoima, in Western Uganda, where the delegation was able to observe the impact of the malaria burden on Ugandan people first hand. They met with volunteer health teams (VHTs) trained under Malaria Consortium’s integrated community case management (ICCM) project funded by the Canadian International Development Agency. VHTs are the front line support for some of the more remote communities and are trained and given support from district level health officials to treat young children for pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria at community level.
The volunteers are provided with medicine kits containing drugs and education materials. This not only means that the VHTs can provide localised and immediate care for children that are suffering from high fevers, but this also helps to reduce referrals to the already over-capacity health facilities. The VHTs keep detailed patient data logs, which feed into district and eventually national health management information systems (HMIS) databases, and which are invaluable tools for forecasting commodity and treatment gaps for hard to reach populations.
The delegation also met recipients of long-lasting insecticidal nets provided by the Comic Relief funded Pioneer project.
In Kampala, the group was given a tour of QCI, the only drug manufacture plant in sub-Saharan Africa with a WHO certificate of approval, and the only non-foreign drug plant to supply the malaria treatment, artemisinin combination therapy, to Ugandan citizens. The delegation was given an insight into how invaluable private sector engagement is in the sustainability of malaria interventions, and how donor support to operations such as QCI provides a vital economic boost to the burgeoning health market.
The delegation also had high level meetings with staff from the UK Department for International Development, the British High Commission and with engaged members of parliament and Ugandan industry leaders who are working hard in the fight to control malaria.
Finally, the MPs met Ugandan Minister of Health, Dr. Stephen Mallinga, where they shared experiences and spoke about the political barriers to implementing effective malaria interventions in a country with such significant infrastructural deficiencies.
Speaking at the All-Party Parliamentary group’s report meeting on the trip, Mr Lefroy said that he was heartened by the good work being done on the ground to combat malaria related mortality and morbidity, and re-affirmed the commitment of the APPMG and the government to tackling malaria in Uganda.
“I was very impressed by the level of commitment demonstrated by all implementers, and especially by the volunteer health teams in Hoima. This is the big society in action, and it has lessons for us here in Britain.”
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