The Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA) and Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Malaria (UPFM) had an inception meeting on April 14, 2022. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce the Health Tech Platform to the policymakers. The Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Malaria is a platform of members of Parliament coming from different political shades who collectively generate visibility and provide leadership for the control and eventual elimination of malaria and neglected tropical diseases from Uganda.
In attendance were Members of Parliament under the forum and the media. During the meeting, the forum gave a quick overview of who they are, what they hope to accomplish, and potential areas of collaboration between the forum and CEPA. Key among these was that the forum’s overall strategic objective (Objective3:Advocate and promote transformative technologies for disease control in Uganda) fits perfectly with the mandate of the Health Tech Platform.
Some of the key areas of collaboration included:
- Capacity-building initiatives for MPs and secretariat
- Multi-stakeholder engagements
- Research, policy and content analysis
- Joint advocacy engagements
The meeting took place at an ideal time since World Malaria Day is approaching, under the theme “Harnessing innovation to lower the malaria disease burden and save lives.” In keeping with this theme, it is critical that we begin having open and balanced talks as a country about the development and application of emerging revolutionary tools and technologies to address Africa’s health concerns, particularly the Malaria epidemic.
The concept of genetically engineered mosquitos has been looming, and while MPs and the general public are aware of it, they do not fully understand the concept and how it will work. Because of Uganda’s past with GMOs, constituents have expressed worries to their MPs about the potential consequences of having gene drive or genetically engineered mosquitoes. Some of the effects that were emphasized were infertility/ sterility when beaten by a gene drive mosquito.
Some of the MPs in attendance, on the other hand, praised the notion of using gene drive mosquitos, stating that the current malaria control methods are becoming ineffective. Hon Agnes Taaka pointed out that issuing of nets is not sustainable especially since the government distributes few mosquito nets – 1 net per 2 people in a household.
Hon Agnes Taaka (Woman MP Bugiri District) speaking about the need to find new solutions to eradicate malaria in Uganda.
The issue of corruption was also raised as a major worry. As a result, the MPs proposed promoting malaria immunization because it is more difficult to manipulate and defraud. It was emphasized that policy reforms are influenced by the opportunities for regulators, technocrats and other government officials, to make money. Therefore, anything that takes away or create potential for looting will be stifled or supported respectively.
The MPs also requested that technology be utilized to eradicate malaria in Uganda, as mosquitos have developed resistance to the pesticides currently in use, resulting in an increase in the number of children dying from malaria every day. Currently, Uganda loses 10 children from malaria every day.
The meeting emphasized the importance and need for induction meetings and media training to provide them with an understanding of the different technologies that can help control and eventually eradicate malaria in Uganda.
The Centre for Policy Analysis and the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Malaria signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the end of the conference to begin their collaboration in ending malaria in Uganda.
Hon. Dr Batuwa Timothy (Chairperson UPFMA) and Reagan Wamajji (Associate Director CEPA) sharing a moment after signing the partnership agreement between UPFM and CEPA, in Kampala.