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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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When BEDNETS become COFFINS

Salifu Abdul-Rahaman-Ghana.

 have heard many reasons why people will not use treated mosquito nets for protection against malaria attacks. But equating use of nets Ito  lying  in a coffin was mind boggling.

“The  women  in my  area  do  not  want  to  use  bed-nets  to  protect themselves from mosquito. They picture themselves as ghosts when they sleep under the net,” the sub chief of the Awutu Traditional Area of  the Central Region of Ghana, Nae Kwao Kurabi Clottey  III  tells me.

The Chief, who doubles as a medical practitioner at the Humble Home Clinic at his palace at Awutu Bereku says malaria is a major problem as he attends  to about 10 cases of malaria every day at his clinic.

“The belief  that  they picture  themselves as ghosts when  they sleep under the bed net, is embedded in the   subconscience of the people and we need  to do more civic  education,'' Nae Clottey says.

The refusal to use the  insecticide treated net  (ITNs)  is a major challenge to the health authorities. The recent demographic surveillance report indicates  that only 17 per cent of Ghanaians use  ITNs.

Ms. Patricia Antwi, the Awutu-Senya District Director of Health Service says the district recorded 35,000 cases of malaria  in 2008, representing 35 per cent of Out Patient Department attendance at the public health institution  in  the area.

Ms Antwi notes that malaria prevention and control efforts in the area were being hampered by  the attitudes of the people towards the use of bed nets and other preventive measures.
“It appears the people are not using the preventive measures well,”she says.

“They have the ITNs, but they are not using them. Some claim it is uncomfortable because of the heat, we have an attitude problem at hand,” says Ms Antwi.

According to the District Director of Health Service, a lot of ITNs have  been  made  available  in  all  the  208  communities  in  the district with the support from UNICEF,  PLAN International as well as  the  health  directorate,  but  the  problem  of  non-use  still
remains.

Results of studies carried out in some parts have shown that the use of  ITNs holds  the key  to  solving  the problem of malaria  in Africa. A bed net trial conducted in the Kassena Nankana District of  the  Upper  East  Region  of  Ghana  bed  nets  from  1993-94  showed a 17 percent reduction in deaths among children under five.

Unfortunately  socio-cultural  beliefs  and  practices  as  well  as poverty, continue  to prevent people  from using  the nets.

In Kenya, there were reports that some beneficiaries of the net found  the  nets  useful  as  fishing  gear  rather  than  as  a malaria prevention method. There is the story of a beneficiary of the net who said she had stopped using the net because there were no more mosquitoes. After she felt sick she decided to sleep under the net to see whether she would be cured of the ailment. Still in the Ghana study, a man chose to use the pre-emptive approach cutting the net into pieces and using them as window and door curtains to ward off the mosquitoes before they could have access to his  room  to do any damage.

From  a  traditional  approach,  Nae  Clottey  III  suggests  health experts should consult the gods to exorcise the ghosts from the nets. Ms. Patricia Antwi, the Awutu-Senya District Director also has  an  equally  interesting  suggestion.  She wants  the  research community  to come out with an  'air-conditioned” bed net  to make it cooler  for  the people  to use. Clearly there  is an urgent need for health authorities to undertake vigorous public education campaign to encourage the use of bed nets, particularly in rural communities. Equally important, is the need  for  the  training of  trainers of health workers  to enhance  their capacities  to deliver primary health  care  service  to  reduce  the incidence  of malaria  in  the  area.  Such  an  intervention  would ensure  the mirth and humour generated by  insecticide  treated nets  (ITNs) do not become a comic  trip.
 

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