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Health News of Thursday, 28 March 2013

Source: GNA

Free nets cause decline in malaria

The prevalence rate of malaria is declining in Ghana owing to the free distribution of long-lasting, insecticide-treated mosquito nets.

Mr Kwame Dzudzorli Gakpey, Communications Officer of the National Malaria Control Programme of the Ministry of Health, who spoke in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Tuesday, said in-patient death cases from malaria nationwide dropped from 3,259 in 2011 to 2,815 in 2012.

"Malaria deaths among children under five years for the same periods were 1,539 for 2011 and 1,129 for 2012, whereas death among pregnant women due to malaria was 918 for 2011 and 476 for 2012," he said, attributing the decline largely to the successful distribution of long lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets.

Ghana in 2012 embarked on a universal coverage of two persons per long lasting insecticide treated mosquito net campaign during which 12 million people were covered, which represents a coverage of 24 million of the population.

The Communications Officer said that a study by the University of Ghana in Ashanti, Central and Upper West Regions showed that in 2008 and 2012, 38 per cent and 86 per cent respectively of households had ownership of long lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets.

He said the Ministry would ensure that the gains so far made were sustained in 2013 and beyond; adding that this year the Ministry would be targeting schools, antenatal and child welfare clinics for the distribution of free long lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets.

Mr Gakpey stated that although Ghana was a hyper malaria endemic country, the nation would have witnessed more decline in malaria cases but for the incidence of over diagnoses. “Not all fever symptoms are malaria cases”, he added.

He said in order to combat malaria in the country, health professionals must always adhere to the Ministry’s policy of 'Test, Treat and Track', and urged health professionals to at all times use the microscopic test or Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) in diagnosing patience, adding that it was only by this method that the true picture of malaria cases in the country could be brought out.

Mr Gakpey advised Ghanaians to maintain clean surroundings and endeavour to eliminate stagnant waters. He urged all stakeholders to get on board in the battle against malaria. “Malaria is a killer but it is preventable, let’s team up and drive malaria away,” he declared.

He commended the World Bank, United States Presidential Intitiative on Malaria Programme, the Global Fund, the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom, among other donors, for funding the free distribution of long lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets.

“The month of April is the International Month for Malaria and April 25 will be World Malaria Day which has the theme: Invest in the future, defeat malaria,” he said, and called on all to part-take in the world malaria day celebration nationwide.

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