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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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Weighing up the current tools

The rational use of recommended malaria tools is vital for the success of the war against the disease. This view has been championed in practice and advocacy by Mrs. Ellen Sam, Chief Superintendent and Principal Pharmacist at the Police Hospital of the Ghana Police Service in Accra. As a patron of the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN), Mrs. Sam continues to educate communities on malaria, malaria drug policy, use of bed nets, effective therapies and managing adverse reactions caused by malaria drugs. She shared her thoughts on malaria elimination, as Africa gets closer to the Abuja targets of 2015, in an interview with AMMREN correspondent, Charity Binka.

AMMREN: What do you think are the most critical contemporary malaria issues to focus on?

A: The key issues are access to affordable, efficacious and safe anti-malarials as well as the willingness of patients to take the drugs. Without ensuring that anti-malarials are readily available and affordable and also making sure malaria patients take their drugs, not much can be achieved in the efforts to control the disease.

AMMREN: What will it take to move Ghana and other African countries closer to malaria elimination and eventual eradication?

A: The first step to malaria elimination and eventual eradication is political will. There is also the need for funding and collaboration among African countries.

AMMREN: Is Ghana on course to eliminate malaria? How can we fast track the process?

A: Yes we seem to be on course but we have to redouble our efforts or we will not get there anytime soon.

AMMREN: How do we achieve this at the community level?

A: Education is critical to putting Ghana on the path of malaria elimination. It is important to educate communities to understand that malaria can be prevented and that prompt effective treatment averts complications and death. This will greatly reduce malaria deaths.

AMMREN: Can you suggest strategies that encourage public participation in malaria prevention and control efforts?

A: The strategies will be to address the barriers to prevention and control. Education is important and so the general public must be given information about malaria in very simple language that is acceptable to them. For example, people wrongly believe that a child with convulsion will die when taken to hospital and given an injection.

AMMREN: Is research in malaria vital in kicking malaria out?

A: Yes. Research is key. More research is needed for new drug discovery and resistance to old drugs. Findings of research are useful for effective policy planning in every endeavor, particularly in the area of health, which determines the wealth of a people.

AMMREN: The world is waiting for a malaria vaccine. Is the wait worth it?

A: Certainly the introduction of the malaria vaccine will provide the critical impetus to malaria elimination but more funds and commitment are needed if we are to see any vaccines anytime soon.

AMMREN: Focus is now shifting to larviciding. What are your thoughts on this approach? Can this lead Ghana on to the path of malaria elimination?

A: I think larviciding has a role to play but there are a lot of unanswered questions. What is its effect on humans and vegetations? Will it really control the spread of malaria? Is it cost effective? Whatever arguments there are in favour of larviciding, however, it still cannot replace the other control mechanisms such as indoor residual spraying (IRS), insecticide treated nets (ITN), prompt and effective treatment.

AMMREN: What are some of the major malaria activities you have carried out in the past few years?

A: I engage in malaria advocacy, working closely with both print and electronic media. I'm also carrying out a cohort study of pregnant women exposed to anti malaria drugs and the effects on their babies. I also train pharmacists in the rational use of anti-malaria drugs.

AMMREN: What has been some of the challenges and success stories in your work?

A: A key success story is seeing some children alive today because of an intervention I made in their treatment. The challenges include the lack of funding and support for malaria work, behavioral change and especially the big challenge of getting people to use the ITNs.

AMMREN: What other current issues do you find challenging?

A: Sale of counterfeit medicines is a big problem now and it is important that the drug authorities will ensure that they are cleared out of the system and patients have access to only genuine anti malaria drugs.

AMMREN: What is it like working on malaria in the communities?

A. Working with communities in the area of malaria has made me realize that access to prompt and effective care, affordable and good quality anti malarials still remains a challenge for most people. I have also observed that the negative perceptions of some people in rural communities about malaria have direct impact on treatment outcomes.

AMMREN: Can you share some of the negative perceptions you are referring to?

A. Most people in rural communities know that the mosquito causes malaria but they do not believe that malaria is a disease to be taken seriously or the fact that malaria can kill or cause serious complications.

AMMREN: Can you be specific?

A: People in rural communities find it hard to believe that ITNs really prevent malaria and therefore most people have the ITNs but do not use them; but in places where the ITNs have been used properly, infection rates have come down. We have a lot of work to do in terms of getting communities to accept and use ITNs.

AMMREN: What about their response to treatment options for malaria?

A: Most people in the community use herbal medicines to treat malaria. They have the perception that herbal medicines are safer and more effective than the orthodox medicines in our anti-malaria drug policy. I think this is an area, we as a country, need to take a look at. We need to take a serious look at our herbal medicines for malaria and begin to ask ourselves what we can do to refine and standardize them.

AMMREN: Are your experiences in the hospital environment the same in dealing with negative perceptions?

A. My experience at the hospital level is just proof of the concept that prompt treatment saves lives. Children under five and pregnant women are most vulnerable. Usually most of the children are brought in rather late. Perhaps their care-givers try to manage the situation by themselves. It is sad to see that children die from preventable deaths from malaria. We also encourage the pregnant women to use ITNs, go for their intermittent preventive treatment and report as soon as they suspect they have malaria for prompt treatment.

AMMREN: What do you think is the way forward?

A: With the tools and knowledge we have now in fighting malaria, I think it is unacceptable for people to still die or suffer complications from malaria. Policy makers, health workers and civil society have to work together to improve access to prompt care and affordable and good quality anti-malarials. We need a holistic approach to subdue malaria, a preventable and treatable disease.

Eleventh Edition