Health News of Saturday, 26 April 2014

Source: Public Agenda

NMCP outlines challenges in the fight against malaria in Ghana

Abuse of malaria commodities that are given out free of charge, beneficiaries of free insecticides treated bed net failing to use their bed nets regularly, inappropriate care seeking attitude of some caretakers of children under five years with malaria, and attitude towards the changing trends in malaria case management- testing and trusting the test results are some of the noted challenges the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) is encountering as the fight against malaria endemic in Ghana intensifies.

James Frimpong, Programmes Manager for NMCP says that some schools are engaged in illegalities by charging pupils to pay varied amounts for the nets that are supposed to be given out free of charge, and this attitude is hindering underprivileged ones from getting access to the bed nets for protection against mosquitoes.

He says other challenges that are affecting the fight against malaria in Ghana are the existence of substandard malaria drugs on the market, threat of “galamsey” surface illegal mining to malaria vector control intervention, unsustainable funding mechanism for the control of the disease following the overreliance on external funding, poor environmental management among others.

In order to effectively deal with these challenges, Mr. Frimpong states that the NMCP has adopted prompt and effective case management; multiple prevention methods; partnership; and focus research.

He was speaking during a press conference to mark the beginning of the seventh world malaria day in Accra last week. The theme for the celebration is “Invest In the Future: Defeat Malaria”.

Mr. Frimpong explained that, under the prompt and effective case management, the NMCP is improving Home-Based-Care(HBC) as part of the Integrated Community Case Management (iCCM) through training of community-based agents (CBAs) and caregivers. These agents would, therefore, know the right drugs to be given to malaria patients. Under the multiple prevention methods, there is the integrated vector control, the intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy and seasonal malaria chemoprevention. These methods are being operationalised concurrently to deal with the problem.

On partnership, Mr. Frimpong said partnerships exist locally among Metropolitan and District Assemblies (MDAs). For example COCOABOD, the body in charge of regulating cocoa farming in Ghana is supporting in the distribution of bet nets to all cocoa farmers across the country, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the National Commission on Civic Education and Civil Society Organisations are also supporting the programme through advocacy in the rural communities they operate. There are also partnerships between the Government of Ghana and external bodies such as the World Health Organisation, (WHO) United Nations Children Fund, (UNICEF) the World Bank and a host of others.

On focus research, he said selected malaria control interventions and strategies are based on evidences that are obtained through research. Locally as well as international research institutions have contributed to building the evidence.

Dr. Gloria Quansah-Asare, Deputy Director General of the Ghana Health Service, stated that the world malaria day is a day for a unified commemoration of the global efforts to combat one of the world's most dreaded diseases because of its impact on the economic development and health of countries especially those in Africa South of the Sahara, Ghana inclusive.

She said it presented an opportunity to learn more about the devastating consequences of the disease, know progress made as the years go by and as well learn others experiences, to back each other's efforts.

She noted that, death due to malaria among pregnant women and children has reduced drastically as a result of the adoption of a multi-pronged strategy which includes active public education and creation of awareness on public health issues.