Introduction: Malaria remains the world’s leading vector-born cause of mortality and morbidity, and Eastern Uganda contains some of the country’s highest prevalence rates. Though academic societies, such as universities, may be prone to high malaria transmission, the extent of the burden and risk factors in university communities of Eastern Uganda are poorly understood. The aim in this study was to examine malaria prevalence, preventive strategies, and risk factors, among University communities in Eastern Uganda; to inform targeted malaria eradication efforts in academic settings.
Methods: A mixed methods approach was applied. A case study of Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU), located in Eastern Uganda, was selected. A retrospective approach was used to determine malaria prevalence in IUIU from August to December 2019. Stratified random sampling was used to select IUIU community members; these were subjected to semi-structured questionnaires and Key informant Interviews (KII) to examine the preventive approaches and risk factors. An observational survey was also conducted to identify barriers to malaria prevention. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics, graphs, Chi-square, and pictures; with STATA version-15.0.
Results: The study involved 255 respondents (204, 80% students, 51, 20% staff); 130, 51% were males, 125, 49% were females. Malaria prevalence was; 12.9%, 11.7% and 12.7% for students, staff, and the general study population respectively. Lowest prevalence was registered in November (8.3% for students, 0% for staff), and the highest in December (18.4% for students, 6.7% for staff)Overall malaria prevalence in IUIU was significantly greater than Uganda’s national prevalence (χ2=182.009; p<0.0001; 95%CI). The commonest intervention was, sleeping under insecticide-treated mosquito-nets (96%), and the rarest was usage of medicinal herbs (15%). Though 41 (17.5%) of respondents who used mosquito-nets never suffered malaria, usage of mosquito-nets was not significantly associated with absence of malaria infection (p = 0.83). The same applied for other interventions except timely testing and treatment (p = 0.02). Most frequently mentioned risk factors were; improper use of mosquito nets (214, 84%), inappropriate depositing of garbage (196, 77%), and “staying out late” (133, 52%). Key barriers to malaria prevention observed were; usage of damaged bed nets (38, 19% of 198), clogged trenches with liquid wastes, and perforated wire meshes in ventilators.
Conclusion: The overall prevalence of malaria in IUIU community was 12.7%; and was significantly higher than Uganda’s national prevalence (7%). Usage of insecticide-treated bed-nets was the commonest intervention, but showed no statistically significant association with malaria non-prevalence. Awareness programs should be enhanced to address inappropriate use of malaria control methods/tools, because the widespread adoption of these interventions alone did not effectively curb the burden.||en_US