A West Africa Regional Malaria Safe Awards programme has been held at the Kempinski Hotel in Accra. The Awards night was to show appreciation to companies and individuals who are helping to eradicate Malaria in the West African region and to encourage more companies to get on board the fight against the disease.
Sixteen (16) companies including 3 media houses, JOY FM, GTV and Daily Graphic received awards for their work. Four individuals, including First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo also received Lifetime Achievement and Special Recognition Awards.
In a speech, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, noted that malaria has a devastating effect on economies. She said that malaria affects productivity and profitability when the workforce is affected. She said that children cannot go to school, women cannot do their chores and the whole nation suffers when malaria strikes.
She congratulated companies that had come on board to help eradicate the disease and urged other companies in the sub-region to join in the fight.
The Programme Manager of the National Malaria Control Programme, Dr Kezia Malm, said that Ghana, through the National Malaria Control Programme, has developed an ambitious agenda to move the country to a state of pre-elimanation by the year 2020, with the aim to reduce the burden of the disease by 75%.
She said that interventions introduced had resulted in the reduction of prevalence of malaria in children under five years from 27% in 2011 to 21% in 2015 while deaths due to Malaria reduced from 2799 in 2012 to 603 in 2017, a 99% point reduction over the period. Dr Kezia noted that about US$6.58 million is spent directly on malaria by companies. She said that these monies could have gone into other sectors of the economy if malaria had been eradicated.
Dr Kezia commended the Johns Hopkins Centre for Communication and its implementing Agency, the Private Sector Malaria Project (PSMP), for maintaining the malaria private sector collaboration high on the agenda.
The Director General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Anthony Nsiah Asare, said that having a healthier, wealthier and happier nation requires the support of all to mke this happen. He said that having a malaria free staff leading to increased productivity and wealth is what the Ghana Health Service seeks to achieve.
Dr Nsiah Asare said that one of the Sustainable Development Goals is to end the epidemics of AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and neglected tropical diseases and also combat Hepatitis and water-borne diseases as well as other communicable diseases by 2030. He said that to achieve this target the private sector’s support is needed.
The CEO of the Dangote Foundation, Mrs Zouera Youssoufou, noted that the global response is at the crossroads and efforts against the disease have slowed down. She stated that in Nigeria, 300,000 children die every year from the disease while the country loses over 330 billion Naira to the disease. She said that the goal was still achievable if more people joined in the fight.
Award winners included RMG Ghana Ltd, Agricare, Savannah Fruits Company, Tana (Nigerian Company), Dangote, Exon Mobil and Ecobank.
The former Programme Manager of the National Malaria Control Programme, Dr. Constance Barte Plange under whose tenure Ghana achieved 99% reduction in Malaria deaths was also honoured.