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Health News of Thursday, 3 March 2016

Source: GNA

Campaign to reduce Malaria up

The National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) of the Ghana Health Service in collaboration with UNICEF have launched a new Behaviour Change Communications (BCC) campaign to encourage Ghanaian households to use Insecticide Treated bed Nets.

The new campaign is to build on the current awareness created and translate them into action to encourage every household in the country to sleep under a bed net.

Launching the campaign in Accra, Mr Alex Segbefia, Minister of Health, explained that Ghana continued to bear the brunt of malaria as the country recorded 10.1 million Out Patients Department (OPD) cases in 2015, though deaths declined by 3.0 per cent for the same year.

The Health Minister explained that the BCC was necessary to improve treatment and surveillance and it was critical for the Test, Treat and Track initiative, adding, “It is vital for building trust in test results especially when patients receive malaria negative test results and are unsure of what to do next”.

He called on families to always hang and use their bed net every night and urged the Malaria Control Programme as well as partners to create demand for replacing bed nets as part of their distributing campaigns.

Dr Kezier Malm, acting Programme Manager of NMCP, who gave an overview of the malaria burden in Ghana, said Ghana was among the top 10 countries contributing to the world malaria burden with children under five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable.

In 2015, malaria accounted for 38.1 per cent of all OPD cases and seven per cent of deaths and use of ITNs have shown to avert about 50 percent of malaria cases and also prevent 17 per cent of all deaths.

“The impact on the community is maximal when at least 80 per cent of the population is sleeping in an ITN,” she added.

Dr Malm noted that over 13.6 ITNs were distributed between 2014 and 2015 alone, but not all the nets distributed were used for its intended purpose.

According to the 2014 Demographic Health Survey report, though 68 per cent of households have ITNs, 47 per cent slept in an ITN the night of the survey.

She called on health workers to always test all suspected malaria cases for appropriate treatment, and encouraged households to cover puddles around their homes to avert mosquito breeding.

Dr Gloria Quansah- Asare, Deputy Director General of the Ghana Health Service, commended the international partners for their tremendous and continuous support in the social mobilization crusade cases in support of the malaria control effort.

She assured stakeholders and other partners of their continuous support in the area of advocacy for increased mobilization of domestic and external funding as well as provide guidance to ensure appropriate malaria policies and BCC interventions.

Ms Susan Namondo Ngongi, UNICEF Representative to Ghana, commended Ghana for making significant progress with 65 per cent use of nets but said there was still one in three people who were needlessly exposed.

She explained that despite the devastating effects of malaria on homes and communities, the importance of a malaria free environment in promoting economic development and poverty reduction has not been fully appreciated.

“We need to convince not just the population but the politicians, policy makers, the private sector, media and civil society so that we can focus attention towards reducing the malaria foot print in Ghana”.

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