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Health News of Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Source: GNA

Malaria remains leading cause of mortality and morbidity – Report

Malaria remains a public health concern, a major cause of mortality and morbidity, especially among children under-five and pregnant women.

According to the National Development Planning Commission’s (NDPC) Ghana Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 2015 report, under-five malaria case fatality rate rose from 1.3 per cent to 2.8 per cent in 2011, and dropped substantially to 0.6 per cent in 2012.

It indicated that the general incidence of malaria increased from 79.70 per 1,000 in 2009 to 108.30 per 1,000 in 2010.

The report, which was made available to the Ghana News Agency on Monday by the NDPC, stated that deaths associated with malaria rose from 3,378 in 2009 to 3,859 deaths in 2010.

It said the percentage of pregnant women put on intermittent preventive treatment (IPT) fell from 81 per cent in 2009 to 67.1 in 2010, even though the absolute number increased marginally.

It observed that the proportion on the IPT dropped further to 53.3 per cent in 2011 and rose in 2012, but fell back in 2013.

The report, citing the National Malaria Control Annual Report, 2009, indicated that malaria accounted for about 32.5 per cent of all out patients’ department attendances and 48.8 per cent of under-five admissions in the country.

The MDGs 2015 report emphasised that prevention was the best way of addressing the high incidence of malaria in the country.

It pointed out that the use of insecticides treated nets (ITN) as a preventive measure had increased consistently.

The report also cited from data by the Ghana Demographic and Health Surveys and the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey reports, which indicated a consistent increase in the use of ITN by children under-five and pregnant women between 2003 and 2011.

According to the 2015 MDGs report, less than five per cent of children under-five and pregnant women slept under ITN the previous night in 2003 compared to 39 per cent and 33 per cent in 2011 respectively.

It said although major advances had been made towards reducing malaria through national control programmes such as the promotion of the use of the ITN over the past decade, the increasing high incidence of malaria makes the attainment of this MDG target a significant challenge.

“One of the factors working against the preventive campaign is the fact that people who received the ITN were not using them for reasons such as difficulty in hanging them over their sleeping places,” the report said.

It said as part of measures to control malaria and to ensure that a greater number of households not only own ITNs but also use them; a multi-pronged strategy had been developed by the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) of the GHS.

It said among the measures was the adoption of a modified distribution strategy and campaign dubbed “Door-to-Door Hang Up”.

It observed that with the support of partners and stakeholders, this innovative approach was initially implemented in the Northern region targeting households with children under-five and pregnant women.

Other specific interventions implemented by the NMCP to manage the disease were improving malaria case management in health facilities, intensifying public education on malaria control and management as well as environmental sanitation.

The report revealed that key challenges in the fight against malaria included limited access of poor people to ITNs; and resource limitations, mostly financial, to scale up malaria control programmes.

Others were poor sanitation habits of many city dwellers; inadequate waste disposal nationwide, coupled with poor drainage systems in the cities.

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