A Deputy Programmes Manager at the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), Mr James Frimpong, says the programme has put in place mechanisms to help reduce the burden of malaria and to ultimately eliminate it from the country.
Among the interventions being implemented are the integrated vector control programme, supply of Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs) to residents and administering of Intermittent Preventive Treatment during pregnancy (IPTp) to vulnerable groups.
Mr Frimpong disclosed these in an interview with the Daily Graphic in acknowledgement of this year’s World Mosquito Day which falls on August 20 every year.
The day was instituted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine when the link between mosquitoes and malaria transmission was discovered by a British doctor, Sir Ronald Ross.
The day is celebrated to raise awareness of the causes of malaria and how they can be prevented and to also raise funds for research into the cure for malaria.
Besides, Malaria Day offers opportunity to celebrate the work of scientists the world over on their achievements in controlling the disease.
Although the NMCP does not have any activities lined up to celebrate the day in Ghana, Mr Frimpong said effective interventions had been put in place over the years to protect sections of the population that were highly vulnerable, including children under five years, adding that malaria was hyper endemic in Ghana and among pregnant women and accounted for 17.6 per cent of out-patient-department (OPD) attendance, 13.7 per cent of admissions and 3.4 per cent of maternal deaths at some point in time.
Quoting the 2014 NMCP annual report, Mr Frimpong said malaria was a major cause of poverty and low productivity among the population and accounted for about 32.5 per cent of all OPD attendances and 48.8 per cent of under five years admissions into hospitals in the country.
He said the attempt to control malaria in the country predated independence and was aimed at reducing the disease burden till it was no longer of public health significance.
Mr Frimpong was of the view that since malaria could not be controlled by the health sector alone, multiple partners had over the years been engaged while multiple strategies were also adopted, including indoor residual insecticide application against adult mosquitoes.
At some point in our history, he said it included mass chemoprophylaxis with Pyrimethamine, medicated salt (with chloroquine) and improving the drainage system.
Other initiatives included the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) push which was started in 1999 and for which a strategic framework was developed to guide its implementation.
“The strategies took into account strengthening of human resource through in-service training for service providers such as laboratory technicians, data managers and clinicians in general.
“Other strategies were the scaling up of community-based treatment for malaria in all districts through home-based care that targeted children under five years living in deprived areas with limited access to healthcare services,” he said.
The deputy programmes manager at the NMCP said strengthening routine data collection system to capture reliable information and undertake regular operational researches to provide evidence for decision making was also one other intervention being worked on.
The NMCP, Mr Frimpong said, was also forging functional partnerships between departments and effecting mechanisms and programmes within and outside the health sector to fight malaria.
He said it was expected that when all the strategies were implemented using behavioural change communication, there would be improved malaria prevention as children and pregnant women increasingly used ITNs.
“With improved drainage, mosquito-proofing of houses and general environmental management or re-engineering and larviciding, there will be eventual reduction of mosquito population and malaria transmission,” he said.