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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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There is some hope in the fact that a major obstacle to the fight against malaria  has  been  removed  by Ghana, taking a cue from Benin, Burundi,  Cameroon, Kenya,  Mozam-
bique, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Ghana has  removed the  10%  Duty, 12.5%  value added  tax  (VAT)  and National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL) 2.5% from malaria commodities.

Those taxes and tariffs had often led to donors doubting the  commitment of people in endemic regions to fight the killer disease.

Dr Constance Bart-Plange, Manager of the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), believes this “adds momentum to the fight against malaria.”

“Currently, there are taxes and  tariffs waiver for malaria commodities including anti-malarials, rapid diagnostic test (RDT) kits, long lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) indoor residual spraying  (IRS)  machines  and  insectcides.

Now, with the removal of all taxes and tariffs on malaria-related commodities, banning  of  dangerous  monotherapy treatments and significant progress on malaria control, Ghana is  ticking the right boxes in ensuring  that  one day soon no one in the country dies of the disease.

The NMCP manager said the bed nets hanged in peoples' sleeping places has led to a massive improvement in LLINs ownership and use.

“Ghana's figures  attained  are  listed amongst the highest in countries that have undertaken campaigns: ownership of nets is now 96.7%; use in pregnant women is now 59.7% whilst in children it is 77.6%.”

“Seasonal malaria  chemoprevention (SMC); testing,  treating and tracking malaria cases;  setting up of sentinel sites;  intensification of our  media campaign to improve behaviour change; home-based care of malaria and indoor residual spraying of mosquitoes; all add up to intensify the fight against the killer disease.”

Touching on seasonal malaria chemo prevention which  involves intermittent  prophylactic distributions of anti-malaria  medicines,  Dr Bart- Plange said this will be implemented in the northern belt (North, Upper West and Upper East) in the country.

“This is the Sahel region with very high endemicity. In Ghana now, apart from the Upper West region, malaria is now hypo-meso  endemic meaning that malaria parasite prevalence has reduced from  the  high  51-75%  range to  an average of 27.5%.”

Dr Bart-Plange  said  all  interventions constitute an Integrated Malaria Vector Control Programme.

“Of all these interventions, the indoor residual spraying component  has the biggest potential  impact  for  reducing the incidence of malaria in a community. Indoor residual spraying of mosquitoes  in  practice  needs  adequately  trained spraying  personnel, efficient  supervision and strong financial support.”

She spoke highly of the fact that since 2006 to date, Ghana has witnessed IRS by AngloGold Ashanti in the  Obuasi environs and now scaling up to some 49 districts mostly in the northern regions.

“The US-sponsored presidential malaria initiative (PMI) IRS project started in 5 districts in 2008 and has scaled up to 9 by 2011. Over the last 5 years, the IRS program in Northern Ghana has used a single spray round per year starting just before the rains.”

“In the  2012 spray season, a total  of 355,278 structures were sprayed out of 383,142  eligible  structures  found  by spray operators,  resulting in  92.7% spray coverage.   A  population  of 941,240 people was protected.”

“Of this number 22,704 were pregnant women whilst 187,653  were children under 5 years. The PMI IRS districts have been scaled down from 9 to 4 due to the high  cost  of  the  organophosphate insecticide  (Actellic  CS) being  used now.”

The  Ghanaian  NMCP manager  said hanging the nets encouraged recipients to  use them.  She  commended  the partnership among stakeholders, noting that political support at the region and district level is crucial for the success of such a national campaign.

“LLIN  hang-up  campaigns  are  very demanding activities which  call for intensive social mobilization to inform and  educate  communities  and  the general population about the campaign. Social  mobilization  activities  should commence several months before the actual distribution.”

“Public  education  should  continue during all the preparatory activities, the actual distribution phase and thereafter for beneficiaries to continue keeping up and using their nets.”

“Recipients appreciated the distribution exercise, showing that not all free things are unappreciated.”

“Insufficient volunteer incentives  and supervision presented a problem as was the situation where unpaid volunteers resorted  to  charging  beneficiaries for nets or failed to hang-up the LLINs in the peoples' sleeping places.”

Dr Bart-Plange weighed the  reality  of Ghana being able to end malaria deaths at the targeted date.

“With less than two years between now and  2015,  we cannot  say  we  shall prevent malaria deaths totally. What is certain is the fact that  malaria deaths have reduced drastically and by 2015, we shall be recording fewer deaths. For instance in the year 2002, out of every 100 children admitted  for malaria,  4 died. In 2012, this has improved to only one  child  dying  out  of  every  100 admitted.”

“In  the  year 2000, close to  20,000 deaths from malaria were being recorded. In 2012, this has reduced to 2,815. Only 16 pregnant women were reported  to  have died from  malaria nationwide. Even though our aim is to get zero deaths from malaria, we are not there yet. In the year 2010, The WHO estimated  16,000 deaths due to malaria,  have been averted  in Ghana due to the interventions put in place.”

These developments give Ghana's top malaria  advocate  reasons to  believe that the country is up and doing on a mission to bring malaria under control.

By Carlton Cofie