Health Ministry, Districts Clash Over Indoor Residual Spraying

Spray operators at work recently. COURTESY PHOTO.

LANGO SUB-REGION: Northern Uganda districts of Dokolo and Lira are yet to come to terms with Health Ministry on the ongoing Indoor Residual Spray (IRS) project.

On Monday 7 May 2018, the leadership of the two districts together with officials from Health Ministry and Sheer Uganda exchanged bitter words.

The district officials from Dokolo and Lira are accusing Sheer Uganda, a private company trading in Chia seeds of sabotaging the mandatory IRS project.

Fredrick Odongo, popularly known as ‘Kungfu Master’, the Dokolo district LC5 Chairperson chaired the emergency meeting held at Gracious Palace Hotel in Lira on Monday.

The meeting he chaired was looking at how to address some of the Presidential directives issued to them (Lango leaders).

However, concerns emerged after leaders realized that Sheer Uganda is advising locals to shun government IRS project at their respective homes.

Dr. Jimmy Opigo, the Program Manager Malaria Control in the Ministry of Health said IRS is a Presidential directive and no one should temper with it.

Opigo noted that during the exercise in the two districts of Lira and Dokolo, Sheer Uganda warned locals against house spraying.

He further said that Sheer Uganda have often countered any good messages spray operators offer to locals on the positive impacts of spraying their houses.

“They have secretly been preaching to the farmers against the IRS project,” Dr. Opigo said.

“Public Health covers 85% of what we do and have. There is no success in Public Health without chemicals. There is no good modern farming without chemicals, too. Let’s embrace IRS,” Opigo emphasized.

Recently spray operators were accused of forceful access in some homes in Okwalongwen and Bata Sub-counties in Dokolo district after locals protested against the exercise.

Penny C. Ayot, the Program Manager at Sheers Uganda, a company accused of sabotaging government project said that the International Organic Standard (IOS) direct organic farmers to be away from fertilizers and chemical use.

Ayot denied her organization influencing farmers’ refusal of government projects, telling the meeting that some farmers are voluntarily avoiding the exercise in hope for good yields.

The meeting resolved to give Sub-counties of Bata and Okwalongwen in Dokolo district a Voluntary House Spray (VHS).

Amac and Agali Sub-counties in Lira district will commence indoor residual spray in September after farmers have harvested their Chia seeds.

Moses Opio, one of the Chia farmers made the request on behalf of colleague farmers, a request Ministry of Heath, district leaders all endorsed.

It was also resolved that community dialogue and sensitization be provided; direct harvest of Chia seeds from the garden to central stores and that Sheer Uganda should sign an MOU with the two districts.

Another resolution was that registration of organic farmers by Sheer Uganda be done with immediate effect and details handed over to the two districts.

Resident District Commissioner (RDC) for Lira district, Robert Abak blasted the leadership at district level for being lousy in following up quack investors (companies) entering and operating in the district without an MOU.

Abak said such quack investors with time cause problems to government by making locals unmanageable.

On the 26 April this year, President Museveni hosted Lango leaders at Baralegi State Lodge in Otuke district and directed Lira district LC5 Chairperson Alex Oremo Alot to avail him with list of IRS defiance and saboteurs in Lango Sub-region.

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