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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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The inside story

Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) is a vector control tool recommended by the World Health organisation (WHO) to reduce the disease in malaria endemic countries. In a move to effectively utilize this strategy, AngloGold Ashanti Malaria Control Limited (AGAMal) has trained 2,500 spray operators who apply effective malaria-preventing insecticides once a year in Obuasi and nine districts of the Upper West Region of Ghana. One of the spray operators, Jacob Oduro Boahene shared his experience in an interview with AMMREN reporter, Salifu Abdul-Rahaman.

Can you briefly tell me something about your background?
I hail from Kumasi and have been in Obuasi for 20 years now. After completing Middle School (Junior High School) I trained at Kumasi Technical Institute in basic electronics. I did not practice much but got employed as a security guard by a private company in the Obuasi municipality.

How did you get ecruited to work as a spray operator?
I heard about the project and the recruitment exercise on the local radio station. I became interested so I submitted an applicaton through the Labour Department and was short listed fo an examination, which took place at the Len Clay Sports Stadium. I was successful in the exams, so I was invited for an interview.

How did the interview go?
The panel members asked about the procedures I will follow in sing insecticide to spray someone's room so that I do not harm the person. I told the panel that before I spray the room, I will request the occupant to keep all food, drinking water and other edibles outside, and cover all cooking utensils so that the insecticide does not come into contact with them. They also asked me about my reaction if someone suddenly complains that he or she has lost his belonging after I have sprayed the person's room. I told them I will report the matter to my team leader and supervisor for investigation. After the interview I was trained and employed.

What is entailed in the training?
Before I went through the training, I was asked to go through a medical check-up, which was documented. I was trained on how to mix the insecticide to conform to the standard for the desired effect and how to use the spray machine. I was also trained in how to use personal protective equipment correctly to protect myself and also how to ensure the safety of the beneficiaries. When our trainers were satisfied with our work they sent us to targeted areas to carry out what we referred to as the “war of pain.”

Why do you refer to it as the war of pain?
We refer to it as such because it is tedious to carry a 10-litre gallon of insecticide around. One has to apply one swathe within five seconds, and quickly too. Before we go to the field the people are sensitized about the programme through the radio and other channels of communication. They are made to arrange their valuables in the room to make it easier for the spray operators to do their work.

How many rooms or houses are you able to spray in a day?
On the average one can spray between 30 and 60 structures a day. Before I enter the room to spray, the person would have been sensitized about the fact that the spray is meant to protect him from mosquito bites that will transmit malaria to him. Sometimes they arrange their rooms before I go inside to spray once the person is aware of the spray day. People who may not be available for one reason or the other leave their keys behind for the spray operators to have access to the room. There is a high level of went about spreading false-trust between the beneficiary communities and the project members. We star t work between 6:30am and 7:30am.

What else do you do before you leave a beneficiary?
Before I leave the room I am requested to fill a form to indicate my name, batch number, the geographical code of the area, the number of persons in the household including women and children under-five. The person whose room I have sprayed will sign and authenticate that his or her things are intact before I leave the premises. I will then submit the form to my team leader who will in turn give it to the Supervisor. We have a thorough accountability mechanism.

What unusual experiences have you had since you started?
Generally, the response is okay but there are instances where some people would not allow anyone into their rooms. I experienced a situation where omeone gave me GH¢5 for my fforts after spraying her room. Surprisingly, thereafter, she hood that she lost her jewellery after I sprayed her room.

She later found her jewellery in another room where she had kept them. She was compelled to go to a local radio station to dispel the falsehood and apologize to me.

What are some of the challenges facing a spray operator?
My challenge is that my contract lasts for about three months. Thereafter I become unemployed till the subsequent year. We used to be engaged to spray twice in a year which kept us longer on the job. However, due to changes in policy in the use of the insecticide we are now deployed once in a year. So, we have a long spell of inactivity. I do not know what to tell the eople each time they see me after the spray period. When they start seeing mosquitoes in their rooms they ask me to come and spray. My contract lasts for only about three onths during which I enjoy some free healthcare. After the pray period the facility is taken away from me. I wish my contract were permanent.

Special Edition Two