Riding Against Malaria in Uganda on World Malaria Day
Article by Cynthia E. Pacutho, Program Coordinator, Malaria Partners Uganda
On Sunday 24th April 2022, a day before World Malaria day commemorated annually on 25th April, Malaria Partners Uganda (MPU) gathered public transport riders, members of Arua Bikers Association, and People with Disabilities (PWDs) in partnership with members of Rotary Clubs of Arua and Arua Eco-city to ride against Malaria. Rotarian Lenny Ndori, OC Prisons Arua, flagged off riders at 7 am for a 31km ride around Arua city, starting and ending at the Central Police Station grounds. PWDs covered 2km.
Past Assistant Governor and MPU Board Treasurer Royce Androa welcomed participants upon the completion of the ride to the event, acknowledging their time away from personal and commercial activities to commemorate World Malaria Day. She gave a brief on MPU and the MPI-funded phase II Community Partnership Action Project on Malaria (CAMP). Robert Andama, immediate past President of the Rotary Club of Arua, educated the riders on various mosquito repellent plants, which were displayed at the event.
Village Health Teams (VHTs) from the CAMP project were on hand to test and treat riders. MPI small grants chairperson Charley Dickey and the CAMP Project MPI overseer Linda Cheever also rode against Malaria in their neighborhood in support of MPU’s ‘Ride against Malaria’ event.
The Local Council 5 Chairman, Rotarian Alfred Okuonzi informed riders of the dire mortality and morbidity statistics of Uganda in the world and of Arua in the country. He advised them that zero Malaria started with them growing mosquito repellent plants, draining stagnant water around their homes, and sleeping under treated nets among other interventions. Rotarian Okuonzi also commended MPU and Rotary for their contribution to the Malaria fight and pledged local government support in the eradication of Malaria.
Mr. Mahfouz Baguma, Arua Vector Control Officer (VCO) who is the Malaria focal person for the city, applauded MPU and Rotary for carrying out the Malaria awareness activity and welcomed future collaboration toward Malaria elimination. The VCO expressed great appreciation for the riders’ participation in commemorating World Malaria Day, riding against the number one killer disease amongst pregnant mothers and children under five in their district. He re-echoed local government support in the race to eliminate Malaria in Arua.
Deputy Resident City Commissioner (DRCC), Mr. Ismail Masoba highlighted the fact that Uganda loses 16 people a day to Malaria, 10 of whom are children under the age of five, cautioning riders to aggressively fight Malaria in their homes. He noted that the peace instituted by the government enabled activities like the ‘Ride against Malaria’ to take place. The DRCC also congratulated MPU and RC Arua upon completing a successful project and concluded by launching the CAMP project report, declaring the data published as a public record.
The successful event was in line with the Ministry of Health’s National Malaria Control Division (MOH/NMCD) recommendation for health partners to hold World Malaria Day commemorations in their districts of operation. As a result, 25 districts across the country commemorated the day with several activities including a bike ride, an event initiated by Rotary Club of Kisaasi-Kyanja in 2021 and adopted by the MOH/NMCD as the national annual activity for World Malaria Day. The national bike ride was held in Kampala on Sunday 24th April 2022 as well.
Community work is tough and requires a lot of sacrifices. To voluntarily serve members of your community day and night without pay is perhaps the highest form of sacrifice. But this is what community health workers have committed to do every day. Determined to eliminate the deadliest killer of infants and adults alike, our community-based volunteers are resolved and determined to play their part. In all our years of service, perhaps no one personifies sacrifice like Elias Banda. We met Elias Banda on June 4th, 2022.
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