THE 2014 WORLD HEALTH DAY
VECTOR CONTROL; A RIGHT TO HEALTH ISSUE FOR UGANDANS
Uganda joined the rest of the World on the 7th of April 2014 to celebrate the World Health Day – an annual event that marks the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organisation in 1948. This year’s theme was on “vector-borne diseases.”
In joining the world, Uganda National Health User’s /Consumer’s Organisation parades an agenda for a health care system that guarantees full enjoyment of the right to health by all people. Through a full integration and implementation of the rights based approach in Uganda’s Health sector through meaningful Citizen – duty bearer engagement in health care planning and delivery.
For Ugandans, the Day encourages us to realign our civic duty by getting involved in activities for a better health. Uganda’s Health sector is in dire need for reducing Health disparities that limit Universal access for treatment of Vector-borne diseases. Today, malaria is responsible for more illness and death than any other single disease in Uganda. While those with low immunity- pregnant women, children under five years and people living with HIV/AIDS- are particularly vulnerable, all people living in Uganda are at risk of being infected with malaria parasites and suffering from resulting illness. A renewed focus on vector disease control is among the many but a human Rights based approach is all Malaria fight requires.
Article 38 of our Constitution calls upon Ugandans to participate in peaceful activities to influence the policies of government through civic organisations. More so it is our duty as Ugandans to create and protect a clean and Healthy environment, Art.17 paragraph (j) which they are entitled to as declared in Art.39 thus:- Every Ugandan has a right to a clean and Healthy Environment. The Public Health Act Cap 281 of 1935 in force in Uganda, section 93 on Breeding places of mosquitoes to be nuisances; provides initiatives that eradicate breeding places of mosquitoes, clearing of bushes and long grass section 95 the enforcement mechanisms of these provisions is wanting as the scourge rages on.
None observance of the Right to a clean and healthy Environment is responsible for the breeding grounds for malaria vectors – Female anopheles Mosquitoes where residential areas have replaced wetlands, Forests, Hill tops, river banks central to the habitats of the vectors. This has decreed Curative rather than preventive responses by the Ministry of Health. Accordingly, in 2003 Uganda lost US$ 49,825,003 of GDP due to malaria morbidity. Dividing the total loss of US$49.8 million by a population of 25,827,000 yields a loss in GDP of US$1.93 per person in Uganda in 2003. The high burden of malaria leads to decreased long-term economic growth, and works against poverty eradication efforts and socioeconomic development of the country (Juliet Nabyonga Orem, 2012).
Malaria exacerbates violations of the Right to Health and related rights such as Right to life as malaria precipitates Child and maternal mortality; reproductive health and equal opportunities to access quality drugs as it increases demand for more services.
Ill health violates economic rights espoused in Art. 40 of the Constitution of Uganda, Vector-borne diseases affect the poorest populations, particularly where there is a lack of access to adequate housing, safe drinking water and sanitation. Malnourished people and those with weakened immunity are especially susceptible to malaria.
Ugandans should therefore invest extensively on financing Public health services in a manner consistent with the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health. The government has to commit more than the 15% Abuja declaration budgetary pledge for Health sector, equate medics’ remunerations regionally, adopt a Mobile Health facility system that takes Health camps to had to reach areas qualified doctors to share the national Health cake, and then also legislate to meet the contemporary challenges that have marred the health sector.