Staff at Cardiff Metropolitan University's School of Health Sciences have been successfully working to reduce levels of Malaria, particularly among children, in rural communities in Uganda.
Working in conjunction with Makerere University School of Public Health, Nkumba University School of Sciences and Entebbe Municipal Council, Cardiff Met has been working with a number of households to implement a range of integrated and sustainable measures to battle the disease.
The team, which is lead in the UK by Cardiff Met's Professor George Karani, has been working with two rural communities in Wakiso district, Uganda.
In total, forty demonstration households, all containing children under five or pregnant women, have received equipment, nutritional advice and repairs to their houses.
These households are used as training grounds for both their home communities and residents from other villages. Community members can observe long lasting insecticidal nets, screening in windows and doors, the removal of mosquito breeding sites, closing of doors early in the evening and clearing overgrown vegetation to homes.
The African Partnership Initiative, which has received funding from the Welsh Government and the World Health Organisation as well as equipment and expertise from Cardiff and Vale Local Health Board, has also trained locals to act as community health workers in order to offer long-term help. Those who receive this help, especially community leaders, are encouraged to spread the knowledge they have gained and champion the education and its benefits.
A follow-up study among the affected communities, with support from the World Health Organisation / Tropical Diseases Research (WHO / TDR), was conducted in 2014 to assess the benefits and experiences of using the integrated approach in the prevention of malaria. This study found that this integrated method approach has resulted in the demonstration households reporting a 100% reduction in mosquitoes entering their homes.
Speaking after a recent trip to Uganda, Professor George Karani said:
"Any reduction in malaria in rural areas of Uganda is of massive significance therefore this work has delivered huge benefits and will continue to do so due in the long-term due to the sustainable elements such as community health workers. The major benefits that we have seen have been the reduction in mosquito populations in these test houses and less occurrence of malaria particularly among children.
"The work has been particularly challenging due to low levels of literacy in the area therefore we have had to ensure that all educational elements are creative and Innovative.
"This partnership and the work it has undertaken since 2012 has been successful due to three main elements. Firstly, we have worked to increase communities' awareness of how best to control, treat and prevent malaria. Secondly, we have raised the quality of life in relation to diet and the reduction of kidney diseases. Those with malaria tend to have low resistance to kidney issues and high levels of nutritionally related diseases.
"Thirdly, we have educated people about the importance of eating the correct levels of iron and have run cookery classes showing that parts of the yam that are traditionally thrown away are actually high in iron."
David Musoke, from Makerere University School of Public health added:
"The integrated approach to malaria prevention has played a significant role in preventing malaria in the project communities in Wakiso district, Uganda. This is evident particularly from the testimonies of the demonstration households that were interviewed recently that said they observed fewer malaria cases and mosquitoes in their houses.
"In addition, the community appreciated the efforts of the demonstration households in preventing malaria in their households. The collaboration between Cardiff Metropolitan University and Makerere University School of Public Health is planning further research on the integrated approach to malaria prevention in rural communities in Uganda."
Speaking about the benefits of this integrated project, one of the households in Mayanzi village said:
"Previously, my children would get recurrent episodes of malaria within a short period of time such as monthly but nowadays, they may take a very long time without falling sick. They can go to school for a whole term unlike those days before the project when they could miss even up to five days in a row due to malaria. Actually, ever since you gave us nets and you implemented the other interventions, I have personally spent over a year without going to the health facility."
This project has been funded by Training Health Researchers into Vocational Excellence in East Africa (THRiVE), WHO/AFRO/TDR Small Grants Programme and Wales4Africa Health Link Grant Scheme. This investigation has also received financial support from TDR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, co-sponsored by UNICEF, UNDP, the World Bank and WHO and TNE funding from Cardiff School of Health Sciences.
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