Positive Action Against Poverty (PAAP), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) has adopted community engagement as a strategy to eliminate malaria in the Upper West Region.
The NGO is therefore facilitating the involvement of community leaders, volunteers, pregnant women, religious groups, and schools among others in discussion on malaria prevention solutions to whip up community’s interest and acceptance of malaria interventions being rolled out by the Ghana Health Service (GHS).
Reverend Gabriel Fiatui, Executive Director of PAAP, during a community engagement at Vieri in the Wa West District, explained that the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 of the World Health Organisation (WHO), recognised community-based approaches as the only way to reach populations with limited access to health facilities.
In this regard, PAAP in partnership with the National Malaria Control Programme and the West Africa Program to Combat AIDS (WAPCAS), trained 60 community volunteers and opinion leaders to facilitate the community engagement for action against malaria and create awareness across the 15 high malaria incidence communities that the project was being implemented in the District.
Rev. Fiatui noted that malaria control and elimination interventions such as insecticide-treated nets (ITNs), indoor residual spraying (IRS), rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and treatment through artemisinin-based combination therapy, hinged on the acceptance and engagement of the communities in which they were employed.
“Involving local communities and their leaders in malaria control and elimination seems effective in improving health promotion, enhancing community capacity, improving health outcomes and strengthening communities,” he emphasized.
He noted that though new tools for malaria control and elimination have become increasingly available through innovative technological advances, their success depended largely on the level of community engagement.
Rev. Fiatui said PAAP therefore centered its activities on promotion of uptake of Intermittent Preventive Treatment for Pregnant (IPTP) Women, advocating for pregnant women to begin early antenatal care to reduce episodes of malaria among pregnant women as well as lower complications associated with malaria in pregnancy for both mother and the unborn child.
On the use of ITNs, the Executive Director of PAAP, highlighted the need for everyone in the family to sleep under the treated net while also demonstrating the correct hanging of the net.
According to Rev. Fiatui communities did not only begin appreciating the need not to use the nets for fishing and fencing of gardens, but also understand better the economic and health impact of malaria on the families and the communities at large.