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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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Killing two birds with one stone

When AngloGold Ashanti initiated a malaria control programme some years ago, the idea was to reduce the incidence of malaria in an endemic country like Ghana, especially in areas of its operations where the debilitating effect of the disease was causing loss of productivity and money.

The situation was so bad that out of 8000 employees, nearly 2, 500 malaria cases were recorded in 2005, draining the company of $55,000 every month.

The company started a corporate social responsibility intervention to control malaria in 2006, with the setting up of the Obuasi malaria control programme and the recruitment of 2,500 people to administer the insecticide in an indoor residual spraying (IRS) campaign.

Today, it is evident that in responding to a dire situation, the mining establishment has saved money by freeing its employees from disease and provided job opportunities for the youth to improve their lot. The phenomenal drop in the average monthly malaria cases to a mere 56 cases in 2014 and an average monthly cost of less than $1000 in 2015 has enriched not only AngloGold but also the youth employed in the programme.

Assessing the impact made so far, the Programme Manager of AGAMal, Mr Sylvester Segbaya described the intervention as a clear case of killing two birds with one stone.

“We have created employment opportunities and built significant capacity in Ghana of a well-trained 2,500 spray operators and other middle level workers. These seasonal spray operators, who are deployed to apply the organophosphate long-lasting insecticides on walls to kill the anopheles mosquitoes, earn salaries as well as health insurance cover for the period of their employment with the programme.”

About 250,000 young Ghanaians enter the labour market each year and the move by AngloGold is cherished by the spray operators. The formal sector employs just about 5000 representing two percent, while the rest are compelled to seek employment in the informal sector. Considering that reality, these employees and their dependants are happy to be part of the AGAMal initiative.

However, the intervention suffered a setback with the scaling down of the programme, due to funding challenges from the Global Fund.

The original grant agreement with the Global Fund was for an amount of 133 million dollars to scale up the Indoor Residual Spraying to 40 endemic districts across six regions in Ghana over a period of five years from July 2011.

But the plan in the funding mechanism changed mid-way into the programme resulting in the “de-commissioning” of some of the districts. Also, there was a change in the strategy of the National Malaria Control Programme to focus on areas of high malaria transmission.

The scaling down of the intervention from 40 districts to 10 certainly dealt a big blow to many of the spray operators. And other middle-level staff lost their jobs.

The Programme Manager said although the intervention comes to an end at the close of 2016, there is a vigorous fund-raising effort to source funding from donor agencies to sustain the gains of the intervention and create more jobs for the youth.

“All is not lost as the management of the project has provided entrepreneurial skills in other livelihood alternatives like grasscutter rearing, snail rearing for about 1600 spray operators who had to be temporarily laid off.”

“Currently, 800 of the spray operators are in contract with AGAMal, representing “stand-by forces.” The cadres of spray operators who are temporarily laid off still constitute a human resource base of the country that can be deployed at any time to tackle the mosquito menace.”

“We know it is not pleasant for people to lose their jobs, but we have tried to mitigate the impact on them by providing them with some skills training to make them productive, as part of the closure process,” Mr Segbaya said.

The exercise has been described as an “army operation” by top public health practitioner and academician, Professor Fred Binka, chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee of AGAMal directing the vector control programme.

The good thing that has begun must continue to sustain the gains made against the ruthless killer of pregnant mothers and children. It will also provide more jobs instead of rendering the trained spray operators unemployed and out of pocket.

“I am blessed to have been engaged as a spray operator in the midst of unemployment challenges facing the country. My only wish is that my contract will be made permanent,” said Jacob Oduro Boahene, a spray operator.

“We used to be deployed twice in a year for the spraying, but due to changes in the use of the insecticide, we are now deployed once in a year for a period of four months. We are inactive for the rest of the year.”

By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman

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