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BACKGROUND:Understanding the relationship between malaria infection risk and disease outcomes represents a fundamental component of morbidity and mortality burden estimations. Contemporary data on severe malaria risks among populations of different parasite exposures are scarce. Using surveillance data, we compared rates of paediatric malaria hospitalisation in areas of varying parasite exposure levels. METHODS:Surveillance data at five public hospitals; Jinja, Mubende, Kabale, Tororo, and Apac were assembled among admissions aged 1 month to 14 years between 2017 and 2018. The address of each admission was used to define a local catchment population where national census data was used to define person-year-exposure to risk. Within each catchment, historical infection prevalence was assembled from previously published data and current infection prevalence defined using 33 population-based school surveys among 3400 children. Poisson regression was used to compute the overall and site-specific incidences with 95% confidence intervals. RESULTS:Both current and historical Plasmodium falciparum prevalence varied across the five sites. Current prevalence ranged from < 1% in Kabale to 54% in Apac. Overall, the malaria admission incidence rate (IR) was 7.3 per 1000 person years among children aged 1 month to 14 years of age (95% CI: 7.0, 7.7). The lowest rate was described at Kabale (IR = 0.3; 95 CI: 0.1, 0.6) and highest at Apac (IR = 20.3; 95 CI: 18.9, 21.8). There was a correlation between IR across the five sites and the current parasite prevalence in school children, though findings were not statistically significant. Across all sites, except Kabale, malaria admissions were concentrated among young children, 74% were under 5 years. The median age of malaria admissions at Kabale hospital was 40 months (IQR 20, 72), and at Apac hospital was 36 months (IQR 18, 69). Overall, severe anaemia (7.6%) was the most common presentation and unconsciousness (1.8%) the least common. CONCLUSION:Malaria hospitalisation rates remain high in Uganda particularly among young children. The incidence of hospitalized malaria in different locations in Uganda appears to be influenced by past parasite exposure, immune acquisition, and current risks of infection. Interruption of transmission through vector control could influence age-specific severe malaria risk.

Original publication





BMC infectious diseases

Publication Date





Child Health and Development Centre, College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.


Humans, Plasmodium falciparum, Malaria, Unconsciousness, Anemia, Hospitalization, Morbidity, Incidence, Prevalence, Retrospective Studies, Age Factors, Adolescent, Child, Child, Preschool, Infant, Hospitals, Public, Hospitals, Pediatric, Uganda, Female, Male