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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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Believing in Elimination

Malaria elimination remains a big challenge. But trends have shown that with the rational use of control interventions it is possible to eliminate the killer of children and pregnant mothers.

The WHO says the malaria burden in Africa is down by a third. It adds with caution, however, that although this is an important achievement, Africa has a long way to go when one is talking of control and elimination of malaria.

Progress made so far is commendable. Once notorious for being a malaria-ridden continent, Africa now has countries reaching the enviable status of elimination and pre-elimination phase of the disease.

Countries like Ghana, which are at the control stage, are amassing resources and directing expertise to attain the pre-elimination phase in the not- too-distant future.

While the eradication question remains unanswered the world over, malaria elimination, involving situations where malaria transmission has been stopped in a defined geographic area, is becoming a reality in parts of Africa.

The eradication goal is on hold now as this has got to do with a situation where the disease no longer exists anywhere and activities to control it can stop. In spite of this, the last decade (2000-2010) has seen huge funding and tools that have brought about renewed hope that it is possible that one day malaria may no longer be a public health issue if pressure is sustained globally and at governmental levels.    

A 2011Rollback Malaria report traces a historical account of the ebb and flow that saw hopes and fears in efforts that have now led to a strident call to fire on all cylinders to rein in the disease.

According to the report, in 1955, less than a decade after its founding, the WHO launched the Global Malaria Eradication Programme (GMEP) but failed to achieve the goal of eradication although it achieved elimination of malaria from 37 of the 143 malaria endemic countries and two continents: Europe and Australia.

Slow progress in malaria control activities in Africa, the development of resistance and the resurgence of the disease in some parts resulted in the abandonment of the GMEP in 1972 leading to decades of slow progress in the global control efforts.

However during the last decade, huge investments and the deployment of new tools coupled with the up-scaling of control activities such as the use of LLIN, artemisinin-based combination therapies and the use of rapid diagnostic tests have brought hope on the horizon.

Indeed, the last few years have seen marked improvement and transformation in many countries and now malaria elimination is no longer a pipe dream or cheap talk.

According to the Rollback Malaria report, countries such as Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe in 2009 joined other countries in their region to form a sub-regional malaria elimination initiative known as Elimination 8.

Gambia, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe and Madagascar have also secured global funds to prepare for elimination. And since 2007, countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have showed the intent to eliminate malaria.

“As of 2010, the total number of reported cases of malaria in Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland were relatively low raising hope of elimination,” the report added.  

 It also cited Algeria in the elimination phase while Cape Verde has been in the malaria pre-elimination phase since 2010.

Ghana, still in the control phase, is far from eliminating the disease but has set the stage and is galvanizing support from all stakeholders to inch closer to this goal.

For instance, in terms of malaria transmission ,National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) sources say Ghana has moved from being a hyper endemic country in terms of malaria parasite prevalence with rates dropping from 75 per cent to 30. Some areas such as the Greater Accra region are now recording below 10 per cent of the prevalence rates.

According to the NMCP, in 2001 a study of 119 firms in Ghana revealed that 63 per cent of the companies surveyed reported malaria as the cause of absenteeism, low productivity and higher medical bills paid by employers for their workers but this may have changed now if the current parasite prevalence rates are anything to go by.

At a meeting in Accra this year to specifically re-energize media support for malaria advocacy in the country, Ms Vivian Aubyn of the NMCP told a gathering of stakeholders that “a key principle in the malaria control efforts is to make malaria control a truly developmental issue and bring on board key partners and stakeholders to work together based on comparative strengths….”     
“Thus, fostering partnership is a deliberate strategy of the national malaria control effort in Ghana, and is captured in the Malaria Strategy document (2008-2015),”she added.
Ms Aubyn, speaking on Ghana’s malaria policies and partnerships in the fight against the disease, explained that one of the key policies is to mobilize society for a co-ordinated national action against the disease “so as to establish a social movement supported by a national action that is owned by all stakeholders.”

She mentioned an integrated malaria vector control management, the deployment of insecticide treated nets, larviciding and the treatment of uncomplicated malaria and the Affordable Medicines Facility for Malaria as some the strategies to support the control efforts.

Dr Constance Bart-Plange, Manager of the NMCP, speaking at the same meeting, stressed on the need to sustain the progress made so far.

“Certainly, progress is being made in overcoming malaria in Ghana and we cannot afford to slacken. We have to press harder, gather more speed and defeat this disease,” she explained.

“It is encouraging to note that almost 90 per cent of Ghanaian mothers of children aged under-five know the cause of malaria and are able to identify the mosquito bite as being responsible for the disease. It is a positive step in preventing the disease and properly treating it. And we are proud of this achievement,” Dr Bart-Plange said.

According to her, a total of 11,443,691 long lasting insecticidal nets have been distributed and this adds up to some 86.6per cent national household ownership of nets.

No doubt Ghana is out on a mission to control the disease and can look into the future with the possibility of soon joining the enviable positions attained by other African countries in eliminating malaria.

- By Eunice Menka - Ghana

Tenth Edition