Sunday, July 22, 2012

Malaria Consortium Welcomes Clinton-Museveni Pledge to Eliminate Diarrhoeal Deaths in Uganda

Press Release
Entebbe, Uganda 20 July 2012: Malaria Consortium welcomes the pledge by President Bill Clinton and President Yoweri Museveni today to increase support to reduce the 14,000 annual childhood deaths caused by diarrhoea in Uganda. At this critical time for achieving the Millennium Development Goals and reducing child mortality by 2015, scaling up high impact health interventions must be a priority.

Malaria Consortium, an international NGO working in Uganda was invited to participate in the “Scale-Up Diarrhea Treatment – Cut Down Child Mortality” event hosted by the National Medical Stores, the Uganda Ministry of Health and the Clinton Health Access Initiative in Entebbe today.

Ministry of Health policy in Uganda is to treat diarrhoea using Oral Rehydration Solution and Zinc; however patients still fail to use this potentially life-saving treatment. Malaria Consortium, at the event, committed to conducting much needed research on understanding community perceptions and behaviour concerning diarrhoea as a health problem. The data gathered from this research will support the Ministry of Health and partners to improve diarrhoea prevention and treatment communication campaigns, and diarrhoea treatment approaches.

‘Malaria Consortium is happy to see that diarrhoeal deaths are receiving global, and now, national attention with political commitment,’ says Malaria Consortium Uganda Country Director Dr. Godfrey Magumba, who met with decision-makers before the event. ‘We are working to save children’s lives in Uganda, and treating diarrhoea as part of an integrated approach is a key strategy for achieving this.’

In Uganda, 40% of all deaths in children under five are caused by diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria. Children often show more than one symptom and need to be treated with antimalarials, antibiotics for pneumonia and Oral rehydration solution for diarrhoea.

In an effort to reduce these easily preventable deaths, Malaria Consortium is working with the Government of Uganda to implement a holistic approach to childhood disease control called Integrated Community Case Management, diagnosing and treating children at community level to achieve maximum impact. 

 The Ministry of Health programme trains and supports volunteer community health workers, called Village Health Team members, to conduct health promotion activities, diagnose and treat diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria, recognise danger signs in newborns and under-fives and refer to nearest health facility. This strategy is expected to reduce childhood deaths from these diseases by 65 per cent, bringing diagnosis and treatment closer to home, where, in the past, poverty and distance limited access to quality health services.

“Continuing with business as usual is not an option if we want to achieve the Millenium Development Goals in Uganda in the near future,” says Dr. Karin K√§llander, who coordinates a Malaria Consortium project conducting research to support the scale up of quality Integrated Community Case Management in Uganda. “Scaling up coverage of essential medicines to sick children to 80 percent through the ICCM strategy could lead to 20,000 lives saved; it can make a huge difference.”

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