US donates 250,000 mosquito nets to Refugees in Uganda

The US government through the United States President’s Malaria Initiative has donated more than a quarter of a million mosquito nets to people living in refugee settlements in Uganda.

The long lasting insecticide treated nets are expected to protect thousands of refugees and Ugandans from malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases and will be distributed across all the refugee settlements in Uganda.

Malaria continues to be the leading cause of death amongst people living in refugee-hosting districts. Efforts to tackle the problem include clearing of breeding places, early diagnosis and treatment but experts advise that preventing people from catching it in the first place remains the most viable option. The donated nets are expected to help prevent some of the 86 deaths from malaria that happen amongst the refugee population every year.

The Commissioner for Refugees in the Office of the Prime Minister of Uganda David Apollo Kazungu commended the US President’s Malaria Initiative through the US development agency USAID for the donation, saying it will go a long way in tackling the problem of malaria in the refugee settlements.

“A healthy population is a strong population and a productive population. By tackling malaria, we can help refugees and Ugandans alike to make the most of their abundant talents,” Kazungu said.

The donation of the nets is anchored within the Refugee and Host Population Empowerment strategy, an innovative partnership between the Government of Uganda, the UN Country Team, World Bank, the private sector and developmental partners, which seeks to enhance refugee management and protection by integrating refugee assistance with local service delivery systems whilst attempting to gradually enhance refugee and host communities’ socio-economic resilience and prospects for self-reliance.

The nets will work in supplement to the efforts of local health service delivery systems to supplement malaria prevention activities, under the guidance of the Refugee Health Technical Working Group, led by Uganda’s Ministry of Health.

“The importance of this donation cannot be underestimated,” “Our health is our wealth, and it is by no means a stretch to say that these nets will save hundreds of lives. Many of those lives will be young lives, who will go on to become the future leaders of tomorrow,” said UNHCR Representative to Uganda Neimah Warsame.

“UNICEF is ready to work with partners to promote the proper use of nets,” “We will endeavor to ensure that refugees and Ugandans enjoy increased access to life saving commodities, particularly artemisinin-based combination therapy,” UNICEF Representative to Uganda Aida Girma added.

Uganda is currently host to more than half a million refugees and asylum-seekers. In 2015 alone, more than 100,000 people sought safety in Uganda, the vast majority fleeing war and human rights abuses in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi. Uganda has a long history of providing sanctuary to refugees and its policy of integrating refugees within local communities, rather than in camps, is widely considered as an exemplary model. Acknowledging the outstanding generosity of local Ugandan communities in welcoming refugees, the humanitarian response in refugee-hosting areas ensures that at least 30% of their efforts goes towards assisting local Ugandans.