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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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Meet Dr.Thomas Sukwa - (WHO Representative in the Gambia)


1.  Can  you  tell  us  about  your  Education and Work Experience?

I  Obtained  my  Bachelor  of  Medicine  & Surgery  Degree  from  the  University  of Zambia,  School  of  Medicine  in  1979  and worked  as  a  Medical  Doctor  at  Ndola Central  Teaching  Hospital  in  the  Copper belt Province of Zambia.

I went on to study for my Master of Public Health  Degree  at  the  Harvard  University School  of  Public  Health  in  Boston,  USA where I majored in Epidemiology in 1983. Upon  my  return  to  Zambia  I  joined  the Tropical Diseases Research Centre (TDRC) as an epidemiologist. The TDRC was one of the three global research institutes set up by  the  WHO/World  Bank/UNDP  Special Programme  in  Research  and  Training  in Tropical Diseases (TDR) in 1977.

At   T D R C ,  my work focused on epidemiological  and  clinical  research  in Malaria,  Schistosomiasis    (Bilharzia)  and Human African Trypanosomiasis. I became the Deputy Director at the centre  in 1986. In 1987, I   went on to study for my Doctor of  Public  Health  Degree  in  International Health  at  the  Johns  Hopkins  University School  of  Hygiene  and  Public  Health  in Baltimore, USA.

Upon  graduating  in  1992,  I  returned  to Zambia  to  continue  my  research  and clinical work at TDRC and the Ndola Central Hospital. My research work culminated in making  significant  contributions  to  the development  and  testing  of  new  anti malarial drugs, scientific understanding of schistosomiasis, morbidity in communities and  in  designing  control  strategies  for endemic tropical diseases, among others.
I  became  the  Director  of  TDRC  in  1994,  a post I held until I left to join the University of  Zambia,  School  of  Medicine  as  Senior Lecturer in Community Medicine in 1999. I  joined  WHO  Regional  Office  for  Africa (WHO/AFRO)  in  January  2000  as  Medical  Officer  in-charge  of  Malaria  Case Management.  I  was  instrumental  in supporting  countries  in  the  conduct  of efficacy  studies  for  first-line  anti-malarial drugs  (chloroquine  and  sulfadoxine- p y r i m e t h a m i n e )   a n d   d e v e l o p e d   a   framework  to  guide  countries  in  the adoption  of  new  anti-malarial  treatment policies  such  as  Artemisinin-Based Combination  Therapies  (ACTs).  In  2005,  I was given a new responsibility to steer the setting  up  of  a  new  Communicable Diseases Research Unit within WHO/AFRO. During  my  tenure  as  Regional  Advisor  for Communicable  Diseases  Research,  I accomplished the setting up of the unit and supported  the  convening  of  High  Level Meetings  in  Abuja  and  Accra  in  2006  to garner  political  support  for  research  for health and for developing countries to play  a pivotal role in the TDR research agenda.

I was re-assigned to Head the WHO/AFRO Tuberculosis Unit in March 2007, a position I  held  until  my  appointment  as  WHO Representative in the Gambia in July 2008.

2 .What are your priorities for the health sector during your tenure in The Gambia?
Given  that  cost-effective  interventions, tools and strategies for malaria control are now  available,  it  is  hoped  that  malaria could  be  driven  to  the  pre-elimination phase in The Gambia. With the prevailing high  political  commitment  to  malaria control  in  the  country,  the  WHO  is determined to work with government and other  partners  to  mobilise  support  for universal  access  to  cost-effective  malaria prevention and control interventions such as  Insecticide  Treated  Nets  (ITNs),  ACTs,  Insecticide  Residual  Spraying  (IRS),  and Intermittent Preventive Therapy (IPT).  Reduction  in  maternal  mortality  through provision  of  interventions  such  as  emergency  obstetric  care,  making  blood transfusions  available  and  accessible  and mitigating  delays  in  referral  of  high  risk pregnancies, is another priority for WHO's work  in  the  country  in  collaboration  with others.

Lastly,  WHO  has  a  key  role  to  play  in ensuring  that  research  results  benefit populations  in  which  the  research  is conducted. It is the critical role of WHO to broker meaningful national level partnerships  that  ensure  that  local research  results  not  only  provide  the evidence  base,  but  that  they  feed  into policy and practice for the benefit of local communities.  Therefore,  the  WHO  Country Office will support efforts aimed at fostering  and  strengthening  of  such  partnerships  among  the  research  and disease  control  communities  in  The Gambia.

3.How do you rate Gambia's performance towards attainment of the health related MDG's?
Based on the reports that I have read since coming  into  the  country,  I  am  informed that  The  Gambia  has  already  attained targets  for  MDG  2  (universal  primary  education),  MDG  3  (gender  parity  in primary and lower basic education) and is on track for some targets for MDG 4 (e.g. measles  immunization  coverage),  and MDG 6 (children sleeping under ITNs), but unlikely  to  attain  MDG  1  target  (poverty and  hunger).  The  challenge  now  is  to ensure that the gains made in achieving or  towards achieving the targets is sustained as we approach 2015.

Thank  you  for  granting  Ammren  this interview Dr Sukwa.

Second Edition