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    Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Residents are urged to reduce standing water around the home in a variety of ways.


    The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.This can be accomplished using personal protecting  while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Treated bed nets should be used sleeping. Mosquito repellent should be used when outdoor.


    Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of getting malaria. Pregnant women are particularly at risk of malaria. Children under 5 years are at high risk of malaria.


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All for Quality

One major headache for health experts is how to ensure that drugs get to the end-user exactly as the doctor ordered. They have insisted that relevant government agencies and stakeholders adopt appropriate strategies to strengthen drug quality-assurance and control systems in the country.
This is important, especially in an era of sub-standard drugs and the associated threat of people developing resistance to the very medicine that is meant to save their lives.

Usually, when issues like these come up for discussion, all eyes and fingers tend to be directed at the Food and Drugs Board (FDB) which has been accused of not having teeth where it matters most.  One other institution that the public looks to for quality efficacious anti malaria medicines is the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP).
Thus, the FDB having been stirred into action to play its expected role is collaborating with the National Malaria Control Programme under the Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria (AMFm) to carry out a number of quality assurance studies and analyses.

The AMFm is a financial mechanism under which co-paid anti-malarial drugs bearing the green leaf logo for easy recognition are subsidized to help expand access to quality efficacious anti-malarial drugs to save lives and reduce the use of inappropriate treatments such as chloroquine.

Ghana began implementing the AMFm in July 2010 in conformity with the national malaria drug policy that made artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) over the counter medicines in 2004.

Under this collaboration between the FDB and the NMCP, the FDB is carrying out Port of Entry Monitoring of the AMFm anti malaria medicines.

The objective of the Port of Entry monitoring is to assure product efficacy on the Ghanaian market by monitoring the importation, data capturing and periodic testing of products that fall under the AMFm programme.

Testing is carried out at the twelve terminals at the Tema Port as well as the Takoradi Port, the Kotoka International Airport, Elubo Border, Aflao/Kpeglo Border, and the Paga/Sankasi Border.

As part of this drug safety monitoring exercise the FDB has sensitized shipping companies and members of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) at Tema in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana, to ensure that ACTs imported into the country do not stay long at the ports.

Head of the Drugs Unit of the Import, Export & Control Department (IECD) of the FDB, Vigil Prah-Ashun said prolonged exposure at the port can reduce the effectiveness of drugs.  He said apart from the dangers of degradation, quality drugs also become scarce on the market due to the artificial shortages caused by the drugs being held at the ports for far too long.

On other interventions in the package of training Emmanuel Kwarteng, Head of IECD, said the clearing agents will be further educated on how to fill their forms correctly for speedy clearance of the ACT drugs from the ports as it has been noted that incorrect filling of forms contributes to delays in the clearing of drugs.

It is worth mentioning that donors and international development partners have complained about the time it takes to clear vital drugs which have been procured at great costs to help saves lives in Africa.

Sometimes the solution offered is that government waives all taxes on live-saving commodities like malaria drugs and chemicals for the control of mosquitoes.

Indeed, it is not in anyone’s interest to hold vital medicines at the ports due to issues with taxes and cumbersome handling procedures, and it begs the question how a malaria-endemic country can afford to be nonchalant about such a cruel killer of infants and pregnant mothers.

The National Co-ordinator of the AMFm programme, Ms Vivian N.A.Aubyn said the NMCP is committed to reducing the burden of malaria to the extent that it is no longer a public health problem. And part of this commitment is to ensure that no one dies from malaria because he/she could not afford to buy quality-assured medicines.

“The collaboration with the FDB therefore goes beyond just the port of entry to ensuring that the medicines even in the retail outlets and in the clinics are of high quality. Drug quality monitoring is therefore an on-going activity under the AMFm” she said.

Ms. Aubyn explained that most malaria deaths occur in children under five years and among the poor in society where people cannot afford the high cost of the drugs.

“The AMFm therefore will continue to work with all partners to ensure that the medicines are not only of high quality but they can be purchased at a price that does not put strain on the finances of those who need them most.”

Putting things in a broader context, the AMFm Co-ordinator said health is a big contributor to the social and economic development of a people and if the Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria helps to improve the health of the people it will be contributing to the development of Ghana.

She said the AMFm model draws on existing public and private sector supply chains to make available affordable, high quality ACTs to patients when and where they need them.

Ms Aubyn said this model engages the private sector in an integrated programme to scale up access to ACTs, presenting an opportunity to ensure that millions of patients can purchase appropriate treatment for uncomplicated malaria.

 The AMFm, currently being piloted in Cambodia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria and Tanzania (including Zanzibar), is in the first phase which ends in 2012.

AMFm subsidizes good quality anti-malarial drugs, making it possible for the WHO-recommended malaria treatment, ACT, to be sold at the affordable price of about one US dollar for adults and even lower for children.  The success of AMFm thrives on the provision of good quality ACTs. This requires great care in handling and it is all good if the FDB will continue the good sensitization programmes for other relevant agents at the airport and other points of entry.

By Becce Quaicoe

Special Edition