The newly distributed long-lasting Mosquito nets are already being used as fishing gear among locals in Pader district. Area leaders have said that the vice is more pronounced in the areas of Ogom Sub-county, neighbouring Agago river.
Pader District received a total of 129,120 pieces of long-lasting mosquito nets from the Ministry of Health as part of its “Under the Net” campaign, one of the initiatives to eliminate malaria in the country. The government injected USD 120 million (430 billion Shillings) into the campaign which started mid last year.
The campaign sought to improve Uganda’s ranking as the country with the third-highest global burden of malaria cases and the seventh-highest level of deaths. Uganda also has the highest proportion of malaria cases in East and Southern Africa at 23.7 per cent.
Most of the malaria cases are recorded in Northern Uganda. But despite the threat, locals who recently received the mosquito nets from the government are now using them for fishing, Charles Otto Lalobo, the LCIII Chairperson of Ogom Sub-county told Uganda Radio Network in an interview Friday.
He notes that others are also using the mosquito nets as cages to guard their vegetables and crops in the gardens against birds, a vice he says is defeating the government’s efforts to reduce malaria. Lalobo blames this on the limited sensitization on the dangers of such practices among the locals.
One of the locals who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal says he chose to use the mosquito net for its “effectiveness” in catching fish. He says the mosquito net has helped him fend for his family since it’s not a farming season.
“I have two extra mosquito nets for my family members because we received five. I don’t think I am putting my family at risk because I picked two nets and I am using one for fishing. They still have mosquito nets at home they are using,” he said.
Anywar Roko, a resident of Pajule sub-county, however, demands that the district leaders enforce strict guidelines on the use of mosquito nets and where possible, reprimand those misusing them.
Simon Okello, a resident of Pader sub-county faulted the district authorities for not actively handling those misusing nets. He says many locals are using the recently distributed mosquito nets for various purposes ranging from farming, washing dishes, making bathing sponges, and bird rearing.
“I had been calling the number given by the district health department for reporting people misusing mosquito nets but they keep on telling me we are coming and up to now no one has arrived,” says Okello.
Pader Resident District Commissioner Dusman Okee acknowledges the reports and warned residents against misusing mosquito nets distributed to fight malaria in the district. Okee says anybody found with fresh fish claiming to have caught them from rivers or streams will first be investigated.