First Lady Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has called for renewed and vigorous commitment to the fight against malaria. She said the attainment of zero malaria was achievable “when we all show commitment and collaborate better. Zero Malaria starts with me, with you and with all of us”.
Currently, Ghana is listed among the 10 African countries with a high burden of malaria in the world. That notwithstanding, Ghana, had from 2011 to 2016, recorded lower malaria prevalence in children under five with a decreased national figure of eight per cent, and from 2014, malaria deaths nationwide decreased by 73 per cent, available records have shown.
However, speaking at the 2019 World Malaria Day event held at Somanya in the Yilo-Krobo Municipal Assembly in the Eastern Region, Mrs Akufo-Addo reiterated the devastating effect of malaria on the health and wealth of nations and individuals.
She said despite the significant results that Ghana attained in malaria control, people were still dying from it, while the disease continued to be the number one cause of outpatient attendance in health facilities.
She was however, optimistic that malaria was a preventable disease “and we have evidence of proven tools that can change our story.
The theme for the Day was ‘‘Zero Malaria Starts with Me”.
The day is marked annually, all over the world, providing a common platform to showcase the successes in malaria control, while advocating a unified efforts to address the challenges.
Mrs Akufo-Addo said on her own, she started the journey towards zero malaria, some 14 years ago, through her Infanta Malaria Prevention Foundation.
She said that conviction that Ghana could kick out malaria still “drives” her, and that was what provided her the fuel for the passion, to do all she could to end malaria.
“I know the same conviction and passion drives all of us”, she said.
Mrs Akufo-Addo said the pledge by the President in July 2018, at the African Union Summit, of his commitment to champion innovation, to reduce the malaria burden was being given the needed impetus, to create the needed partnerships to ending malaria in the country.
She said the country had scaled up existing interventions and was on track to pilot the new malaria vaccine in parts of the country.
She was proud that Ghana had seen significant improvement, having met the target for reduction of the mortality indicator as promised by the President.
“Our health facility records show that one person died every day in 2018 as compared to eight in 2012.
“We know that these successes are a result of the investments made by all of us: donors, partners, community, health workers and the government”. She said this year’s theme, should therefore galvanise all to do far more “to enable us achieve our overall goal of zero malaria.
“This requires engaging all members of society including; political leaders, the private sector, community leaders and community members. She also called on all citizens to sleep under treated mosquito nets every night and throughout the night, to protect themselves and loved ones.
“Our pregnant women should visit the antenatal clinic, as soon as they become pregnant, to receive SP for Intermittent Preventive Treatment, throughout the pregnancy.
Mr Kwaku Agyemang Manu, Minister of Health, whose speech was read on his behalf, said since malaria continued to be a burden of the people, there was the need to take a second look at the government’s focus on primary health care, and individual’s responsibility in the fights against the disease.
He said the Government was committed to supporting the Ghana Health Service in mobilising the needed funding to implement the various proven strategies against Malaria.
Dr Keziah Malm, Programme Manager, National Malaria Control Programme, urged health personnel to first test all malaria suspected cases to avoid unnecessary treatment with antimalarial and missing out diagnosis on other serious diseases.
“All suspected cases should be tested and only the positives are treated as non-adherence to this, has dyeing consequences” Dr Malm warned. Dr Owen Kaluwa, Country Representative of the World Health Organisation, said the theme of the Day stresses the need to empower individuals across the world, to make a personal commitment to saving more lives, and help communities and economies to thrive by eliminating malaria.
He said the WHO, was therefore, calling for a renewed political commitment to eliminate malaria and for increased investments to mobilise all necessary internal and external resources to fight it, and ensure intersectional and cross-border collaboration
Ms Janean Davis, USAID Ghana Health Team Leader, on behalf of the US President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), celebrated Ghana for the encouraging results achieved in the last 10 years.
“However, as we celebrate this life saving impacts, we must step up efforts to fight the disease to ensure that we reach the noble and ambitious objective of zero malaria deaths” she added.