“More than just another disease” – The Lutheran malaria program in Uganda

Posted on April 29, 2015 by Ashley Debilzen
Allison Beebe

​”Malaria is more than just another disease for us,” says Fred, a government health worker and local leader in the Kapujan sub-county of Uganda. “It is killing our mothers, our children—every minute, every second.”

Kapujan Fred for web

(Photo: Fred)

Geography plays a role in the prevalence of malaria in the sub-county.  “Kapujan is kind of an island,” explains Fred. “We are surrounded by many swamps, which are breeding areas for mosquitoes.”

Because of the pervasiveness of malaria in their community, Fred and the other community leaders in Kapujan sub-county welcomed the LWF malaria program.  As community leaders, they were invited into the program structure.

“At the beginning of the LWF program, we participated in dialogue meetings—key stakeholder meetings,” Fred says. “During those meetings we discussed the vulnerable populations such as orphans and vulnerable children, people living with HIV and AIDS, pregnant women, under-5 children, etc.  All opinion leaders and all political leaders in this sub-county have been well trained on malaria by the LWF program.  We are good mobilizers and we sensitize others.”

Winifred, the secretary of finance for Kapujan sub-county, agrees. “We are very happy that we have been trained in malaria, and we are now creating awareness,” she says. “Everyone who gets a fever should get tested before taking medicine.”

Kapujan Sec Finance for web

(Photo: Winifred)

William, the sub-county chief, chimes in with his support of the program: “We have a good working relationship with LWF in terms of chasing malaria out of Kapujan sub-county. Malaria is dropping down because of support from LWF.  Now our children are surviving and pregnant women are getting good support from LWF!”

Fred goes on to explain how the LWF malaria program cooperates with local leaders:  “The Village Health Teams, or VHTs [trained volunteers with the LWF malaria program] have been trained according to Ministry of Health guidelines.  The VHTs and the government health workers work together to care for people, to do case management, to promote use of Rapid Diagnostic Tests, and to supply malaria medication to the health clinics.  VHTs hold outreach events three times each month, but we tell people not to wait for the outreaches; they should come to the VHT immediately when they get sick.  In this sub-county we never run out of testing kits for malaria, thanks to your support!”

Kapujan Leaders for web

(Photo: local leaders in Kapujan sub-county)

Fred sums up the thanks of his colleagues: “We would like to thank the ELCA and Lutheran World Federation (LWF) for your support in the fight against malaria. We are glad that the LWF malaria program continues.”