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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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Saving lives with good practice

The deployment of large numbers of operatives in any campaign can raise issues of security and safety, as was the case in Obuasi when 2,500 spray operators were engaged to spray people's premises with insecticide.

As the name implies indoor residual spraying (IRS) entails applying insecticide on the inner walls of peoples' abode, places of worship and other structures to protect them from mosquito bites and malaria.

The questions from curious minds is how safe and secured are the beneficiary communities of IRS? These questions are valid because it is a herculean task getting the consent of people to participate in an exercise that invades their privacy in multi-ethnic and multi-cultural communities. Ethical considerations in research require that the investigator makes it a primary responsibility to protect participants from the risk of harm and ensure their safety.

The right to privacy of the citizenry is assured under the 1992 Constitution of Ghana. Indeed, the justice delivery system requires a search warrant to have access to one's property to carry out a legitimate search on the property.

According to the managers of the AngloGold Ashant i Malaria Control Limited (AGAMal) they have ensured the safety and security of beneficiaries in the IRS programme being carried out to reduce the incidence of malaria in the Obuasi municipality and nine districts in the Upper West.

A well-coordinated community entry and mobilisation strategy, backed by a multimedia public awareness campaign through all channels of communication helped the IRS to start on a sound footing. They said this helped to allay fears of safety of the insecticide and security of the belongings of beneficiaries whose rooms have to be accessed to carry out
the programme.

Mr. Eric Obu Buetey, the South Africa-trained expert who heads the IRS section of AGAMal, told Eyes on Malaria that the trust among the stakeholders in the vector control exercise is so strong that people, who cannot be present on the day of the spraying, leave their keys behind for the spray operators to have access to their rooms to spray.

“Through education, the spray operators have been made to understand that the ethics of the job demand that you do not divulge informat ion about people's privacy.”

He said the spray operators go through a rigorous exercise for ten days for new recruits and five days refresher training emphasizing the appropriate use of the insecticide and the safety of beneficiary communities.

The spraying period spans April to June each year, and the insecticide being used, can remain active on the interior walls of all structures in the targeted communities for nine months. The insecticide knocks down and subsequently kills any mosquito landing on the sprayed surface with the lethal dose.

Giving further perspective on the safety of the insecticide, Sylvester Segbaya, the Programme Manager of AGAMal, said the malaria campaign has been decoupled from the core business of AngloGold, and programme managers adhere to high standards of operation.

“Even though we are dealing with insecticides that have been approved by the World Health Organisation, we still believe they have to be properly handled otherwise they can be harmful to the beneficiaries,” Mr Segbaya said.

“We do a lot of information education and communication (IEC) to raise the awareness of our participants to understand the safety standards required of them, what they should do and not do. We do not compromise on safety. So far it has been successful,” he added.

The Obuasi Municipal Police Commander, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Matthew Asante, confirmed that there have not been complaints of theft of belongings arising from the IRS being undertaken in the municipality, since the commencement of the programme nine years ago.

“As far as our records are concerned, we have never recorded a theft case involving a spray operator taking undue advantage of the exercise to steal someone's belongings,” DSP Asante said. “We believe the managers of the programme have done due diligence on the people they recruit for the spraying exercise. It is a matter of consent. When people gave the consent for their rooms to be sprayed, the mutual trust seemed to have worked well,” the municipal police commander added.

Asked whether the IRS clashes with the tradition of the Adansi people, Bidieso and New Nsuta Odikro, Nana Sarfo Kantanka, whose palace benefits from the IRS, said the exercise does not breach the privacy of the people, since it is meant to protect them from contracting disease and ensuring their well-being.

Nana Kantanka has retired after several years of underground work. The chief explained that the issue of allowing a spray operator into one's private room where someone may be keeping his “god” was a matter of consent than custom.

Seth Amoh Mensah, a spray operator in Obuasi, opined that the vigorous training and the strong quality control mechanism in place was a disincentive for any operator to want to do something untoward.

He said it is unlikely for one to be involved in any act outside the mandate given them since any person involved in a criminal act would be caught by the control mechanism.

Operating in a secure and safe environment has enabled the spray operators to cover over 800,000 structures in Obuasi and the nine districts in the Upper West Region, reducing the
incidence of malaria by more than 75 per cent, and making the model a source of pride.

By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman
 

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