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ANNOUNCEMENTS:::

TIPS ON MALARIA

  • HOW CAN MOSQUITOES BE CONTROLLED?

    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.

  • HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM MOSQUITO-BORN DISEASES?

    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.

  • WHO ARE AT RISK?


    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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Bringing all on board

Situated between the Trades Union Congress head office and the Novotel Hotel (two landmarks in the city of Accra) is the office of the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP).

Being a modest building makes it inconspicuous and easy to miss. Despite its modest premises, the NMCP, operat ing under the umbrella of the Ghana Health Service, shoulders the “burden” of issues relating to malaria, a major killer disease in the country.

The main funding for its activities comes from the Global Fund for Malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS. NMCP also receives support from other partners such as the WHO, UNICEF, USAID/PMI and DFID in the implementation of its activities.

According to the NMCP, malaria is still a major cause of hospital attendance. It currently contributes to about 30% of OPD cases, 27.9% of hospital admissions and is responsible for 7.2% deaths.

Giving a background of the programme, the Acting Programme Manager, Dr Keziah L. Malm, said attempts to control malaria in Ghana began in the 1950s and the aim was to reduce the malaria disease burden till it is no longer of public health significance.

“It was also recognised that malaria annot be controlled by the health sector alone and, therefore, multiple strategies were pursued with other health related sectors.”

Subsequently, interventions were put in place to help in the control of the deadly disease. Some of the intervent ions were residual insecticide application against adult mosquitoes, mass chemoprophy laxis with Pyrimethamine medicated salt and improvement of the drainage system.

However, malaria continued to be the leading cause of illness in the country despite all these interventions.

The year 1998, saw the launching of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership, a global framework for coordinated action against malaria.

The partnership forges consensus among key actors in malaria control, mobilises resources and harmonizes efforts to fight malaria in endemic countries. Ghana joined the RBM in 1999 and developed a strategic framework to guide its malaria campaign.

“Overall, RBM Ghana emphasises the st rengthening of health services through multi and inter-sectoral partnerships and making treatment and prevention strategies more widely available.

The goal was to reduce malaria specific morbidity and mortality by 50% by the year 2010. To achieve the goal, four main strategies were being pursued” she recalled.

She said the strategies entailed promoting multiple prevention such as treated bed nets, chemoprophylaxis in pregnancy and environmental management.

It also includes improving malaria case management at all levels (from household to health facility), encouraging evidence-based research to influence effective intervent ions and improving partnership at all levels.

Dr Malm said Ghana is now implementing a malaria control programme with a goal that This is a typical mosquito breeding site. Photo credit: J Lines & generally aims at reducing death and illness due to the malaria disease by 75% by the year 2015 in line with the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

This goal, she noted was to be achieved through overall health sector development, improved strategic investments in malaria control, and increased coverage towards universal access to malaria treatment and prevention interventions.

The plan covered the improvement in prevention, access to prompt and effective treatment, strengthening health systems at all levels and sustaining partnership. Some of the st rategies and projections are that all households will own at least one treated bed net, 80% of the population will sleep under bed nets and increasing the number of children under-five and pregnant women sleeping under treated net from current levels to 85% and 100% of all pregnant women shall be on appropriate intermittent preventive treatment.

It also required that 90% of structures in targeted districts will be covered by indoor residual spraying, all health facilities will provide prompt and effective treatment using ACTs and 90% of all patients with uncomplicated malaria will be correctly managed at public and private health facilities using ACTs.

The plan also proposed that all communities have access to community-based treatment for uncomplicated malaria and 90% of children under-five with malaria receive an appropriate ACT within 24 hours of onset.

There is also the need to increase access to long lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) to achieve universal coverage, expand coverage of indoor residual spraying (IRS) rapidly, building on the models of IRS campaigns in Obuasi and the Northern Region.

It is necessary to strengthen the routine data collection system to capture reliable information, and undertake regular operational research to provide evidence for decision making. Also important is the need to forge functional partnerships between departments even outside the health sector.
 
Dr Malm said in order to achieve this all health facilities must have malaria diagnostic tools like microscopes or rapid diagnostic test (RDT) kits and provide effective antimalarial drugs.

Facilities must train more laboratory technicians and clinicians and increase communi ty-based treatment of malaria in all districts using the home-based care targeting children under-five.

She said with the progress made, Ghana should strive to move from the control phase to elimination.

To achieve this, she appealed to the media to join hands in advocating change in the way providers practice and partner the health ministry to educate the population to use the proven interventions.

“Defeating malaria requires the engagement of a number of sectors outside of health, such as finance, education, defence, environment, mining, industry and tourism. Others have done it so Ghana can do it too,” Dr Malm said.

On World Malaria Day the NMCP announced that through collaboration with partners it distributed 12.5m LLINs nationwide between 2010-2012 in mass distribution, and hang-up campaigns.

Touching on larviciding, NMCP said this was being undertaken by Labiofam (Cuba) and MOH as well as private companies on a small scale in Accra, Kumasi and Sunyani in selected areas.

The NMCP said in backing its insistence on insecticide treated net (ITN), it convinced WHO with data on a reduction in the levels of parasites found in the blood of children under-five years, who demonstrated increasing net use.

If data from the Ghana Demographic and Health Surveys of 2003 and 2008 is anything to go by, ITN advocacy seems to be working with significant increases in utilisation among children under-five and pregnant women.

Malaria in pregnancy which is a documented cause of death has been targeted with three doses of Sulphadoxine-Pyrimethamine (popularly known as SP) administered under the direct observation of health professionals between the fourth and ninth months of pregnancy. Data also showed that with increasing SP coverage, more women are being protected from malaria in pregnancy.

CHALLENGES
Some of the challenges facing NMCP are the failure of beneficiaries to use their nets regularly and the inappropriate care-seeking attitude of caretakers of children under five. Unfortunately, there are still high levels of presumptive t reatment of malar ia in the country.

There is the additional problem of the poor environmental management, illegal surface mining (galamsey) and limited internal financial resources for malaria control.

According to the NMCP, corporate institutions can join the fight by procuring ITNs for free distribution to their staff. They can also liaise with NMCP to implement IRS campaigns and procure diagnostic kits and the approved antimalarials to ensure that malaria is diagnosed and treated correctly in communities and clinics.

They can set up workplace malaria control programmes, providing desks with information on malaria prevention, environmental management and branding of company products with malaria information.

Firms wishing to join the anti-malaria drive can engage local celebrities to champion malaria advocacy, and support malaria research into vaccines and insecticide-treated wall lining.

BY BECKY KWEI
 

Editions: 
Special Edition Two