Joining the fight against malaria

Rev. Dickens Onyant – Northern Uganda

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Rev. Dickens Onyant, Lira – Northern Uganda

Malaria is one of biggest killers in Northern Uganda, leaving behind children with no parents to care for them. The WHO estimated an increase of 1.7million cases in Uganda between 2019 and 2021. Together with PATH Ministries International, Rev. Dickens has helped established an orphanage, clinic, and outreach programmes to prevent and treat malaria, and create hopeful futures for hundreds of orphans.

Rev Dickens cares for children orphaned by malaria in Northern Uganda. Credit: Damalie Hirwa


‘My name is Reverend Dickens Onyant and I am the Country Director for Path Ministries International in Uganda.

Here [in Lira], we have many projects, and one of them is a children’s home. It came about because there are a huge number of orphans here – due to factors such as war and tropical diseases, especially malaria.

Malaria is the most common sickness. It is dreadful, fatal and deadly. Many people are dying in the villages, and yet it is preventable. It is responsible for most deaths – children, mothers and older people. As a leader, I am invited to attend funerals and, on average, I attend three burials a week because of malaria.

When we were looking at our region, we found that most factors which cause children to become orphans, could be minimised by establishing a proper clinic with trained medics – especially in malaria treatment.’

‘We are pleased that aviation is helping to establish some of our programmes. Now we don’t need to worry about the journey – it can be well planned, easy and safe.’

Rev Dickens Onyant

MAF flies missionary Doctor Andy Beardsley to a medical camp in Northern Uganda where over 90% of patients are treated for malaria.


Now, because the clinic is here, we are able to detect and register patients with malaria. When we hear about people dying in the villages, we also have programmes which go out and educate people about when to come for treatment. They shouldn’t wait. Malaria is preventable and treatable – it is a matter of creating awareness about when to come for medicine before they become anaemic.

We also went ahead to create long-term prevention such as providing clean water sources. So far, we have protected over 300 natural springs, and where there are no springs, we have dug deep wells so that people can find clean water to wash, cook and clean with.

Finally, we share the Gospel with people so that in homes, marriages and communities in our region people can find stability and be focussed on God.

In our orphanage, [we want to] raise vulnerable children, create a home for them and give them a chance to study. We established a primary and secondary school to give [these children] opportunities like any others who have not lost their parents.

After secondary school, we push the children towards courses in college and university, depending on their abilities and try to help them find funding.

With all these activities, we [depend on] partners around the world including churches. MAF has been a great partner for us which allows our visitors and supporters to come and see our work without travelling eight or nine hours by road which was very discouraging for them.

Now, it is only 35 minutes with MAF.

We are pleased that aviation is helping to establish some of our programmes. Now we don’t need to worry about the journey – it can be well planned, easy, and safe. So, this partnership [with MAF] is very important for us.

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In December 2022, MAF flew Dr Andy Beardsley to a medical camp in Lira, close to Rev Dickens’ orphanage. There he found almost all of the patients tested positive for malaria.

He said: ‘Most of the children were presenting with fevers, headaches, and symptoms of malaria. Some had signs of chronic infection such as anaemia and jaundice. We did many malaria tests and more than 90% tested positive.’

Paediatric doctor Andy Beardsley confirmed the toll of malaria is particularly heavy on children in this part of northern Uganda. Credit: Damalie Hirwa


“This village is near the swamps, so malaria is a big problem – and the toll is particularly heavy on children. Although we were able to offer treatment today, ongoing efforts need to be made for future prevention.”

According to a July 2022 report by Uganda Radio Network, Alik Health Centre in this region sees about 1,650 malaria cases a month and records between 66 and 70 per week.

The WHO’s 2022 malaria report confirmed that Uganda carries the third highest burden of malaria in the world.

Dr Andy Beardsley said 90% of patients tested positive for malaria at his clinic. Image below. Credit: Damalie Hirwa

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