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General News of Thursday, 9 November 2000

Source: GNA

Rawlings launches anti-malaria campaign

President Jerry John Rawlings on Wednesday launched the National Anti-malaria Campaign with an appeal to Ghanaians to use Insecticide Treated Materials (ITM) to protect themselves against mosquitoes and malaria transmission.

He noted that the social and economic cost of malaria to the country is estimated at about five per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, saying this high trend should be reduced to the minimum to improve the lives of the people and national productivity.

The campaign was organised by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ghana Social Marketing Foundation and sponsored by the World Bank, UNICEF, UNDP and USAID.

The President said malaria, occurring throughout the year in Ghana accounts for over 40 per cent of all outpatients in the health institutions and is considered as a very serious condition in pregnant women, leading to the death of unborn babies.

He said the cost of one insecticide treated bed-net is comparatively low considering the cost of treating malaria and the loss of income as a result of absenteeism from work and deaths through malaria.

Rawlings said this calls for a concerted implementation of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) initiative, that is the management of the environment to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes and the use of ITMs.

"This means that we must keep gutters and drains clean and free of rubbish, and observe basic rules of hygiene around our houses and workplaces."

He called on parliamentarians, district assemblies, religious leaders, health workers and the media to join in the war against malaria. Rawlings also called on the business sector to complement government's promotion efforts by making the materials, including nets, available and affordable nation-wide.

He said the MOH has submitted proposals to Cabinet to consider the removal of taxes and tariffs on such treated materials. Professor Kwaku Danso-Boafo, Minister of Health, said an actively pursued and deftly managed private-public collaboration has been articulated as the best approach for the provision of ITMs.

He said that through this initiative, a task force has been formed to establish a widespread demand for and supply of affordable ITMs for the prevention of the disease.

Mr. Joshua Alabi, Greater Accra Regional Minister, in his welcoming address, said the wealth and future of every nation lies in the strength of its youth and it cannot be considered normal if malaria alone can kill more than 750,000 children in Africa every year.

He said because of this, the government of Ghana attaches great importance to renewing the fight against malaria in order not to let the modest gains in her healthcare delivery be overshadowed by this high mortality rate.