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Opinions of Thursday, 12 August 2010

Columnist: Adjei, Eunice Achiaa

High Transmission Of Malaria During Rainy Season

High Transmission Of Malaria During Rainy Season: What Can You Do To Prevent It.?

Ghanaians love the rainy months of May, June, and July because apart from the unfortunate incidents of flooding that afflicts some parts of the country, these months provide wonderful greenery, cool weather and a varied atmosphere that is missing during the dry months. These are also the months within which food crops grow, to the delight of farmers and consumers alike. The downside is that these months also come with many health problems, especially infections that are prevalent in water related, and it is important for the population to take such measures as are necessary to deal with them.
One of the most common illnesses associated with the season is malaria. Malaria has always been the biggest public health problem and the commonest disease in many parts of Africa, including Ghana. It is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium and transmitted by the female Anopheles mosquito.
According to research, is mosquito breed in relatively clean water which collects in ponds, potholes, dugout pits, footprints and stagnant water along streams, lakes and rivers. This makes malaria transmission in Ghana high throughout the year but especially during and after the rainy seasons as such breeding places increases.
According to records, about 1 million people in Africa die of malaria every year. Almost every Ghanaian has been infected by malaria however; it is very common among pregnant women and children under five years, which result in child and maternal mortality.
National control strategies are been outlined for the control and prevention in Ghana. This includes the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets – that is sleeping under a long-lasting insecticide treated net which prevents and protect people from getting malaria.
Indoor residual spraying is another intervention introduced. It is the timely spraying of inside walls of houses with insecticides. This helps in killing the mosquitoes which come to settle on the walls thereby preventing bites and subsequently reducing transmission. This strategy is effective because the mosquitoes which transmit malaria mostly feeds indoors and rest indoors.
Intermittent preventive treatment for pregnant women is also used as a strategy in preventing malaria during pregnancy. A drug called Sulphadoxine Pyrimethamine (SP) is given three times to pregnant women during pregnancy under direct observation of a health worker.
Artemisinin based combination therapy (ACT) is an effective antimalaria drug recommended by World Health Organization for treatment of uncomplicated malaria. These drugs include Artesunate Amodaiquine Artemeter Lumefantrine and Dihydroartemisinin Piperaquine.
It is therefore the responsibility of us all to try as much as possible to prevent water from stagnating in the environment. As and when it rains we should try to control running waters through good drainage systems so as to prevent them from gathering around our homes .Water which collects potholes, pools, ponds, excavations, hoof prints, etc. should be cleared since these are the preferred sties of the anopheles mosquitoes.
What will be the essence of the effort of the control programme and its partners in putting measures in place to combat the disease if at the same time the root causes of the disease are still with us?
Let’s prevent the breeding places, sleep under treated bed nets to prevent mosquito bites, encourage pregnant women to visit antenatal for their SP and also go for treatment when tested to have malaria by taking the recommended drugs for malaria treatment.
Definitely, we must all do more than we are doing at the moment in order to control this public headache.