President George W Bush has named Ghana as one of the 15 focus countries to participate in his 1.2 billion-dollar malaria initiative.
The President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) is to reduce by 50 per cent the number of deaths caused by malaria in African countries. There are five West African countries namely, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Benin and Senegal among those selected.
The PMI will significantly increase resources to the focus countries and provide the most advanced and effective prevention and treatment interventions to the implementing countries.
Ms Sue K. Brown, Chargé d'Affaires of the U.S Embassy, who briefed the media on a White House Summit on malaria, said the initiative called for an ambitious public-private effort to strengthen and expand malaria control efforts in Africa.
The initiative ensures the provision of new effective drugs to rural clinics, and at least two doses of medicine for pregnant women to protect themselves and their unborn babies.
It also provides distribution of long lasting insecticide-treated bed nets that prevent mosquito bites and the availability of insecticides to spray on the inside walls of homes to kill mosquitoes that transmit the disease.
She said the initiative had since 2005 reached and saved more than six million people in Angola, Tanzania and Uganda and that a series of proven programmes would be launched in other countries to prevent millions of more deaths.
Ms Brown said in Ghana malaria was one of the major causes of poverty, accounting for over 44 per cent of outpatient visits and an estimated 22 per cent of mortality of children below five years.
"More than three million suspected malaria cases were seen in government health facilities and over 110,000 patients were admitted to stay in hospital due to malaria,” she said.
She noted that Ghana was committed to the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) initiative, which was launched in 1998. The Ghana RBM partnership emphasizes strengthening health services in general and making effective prevention and treatment strategies more widely available.
Major Courage Quashigah (Rtd), Minister of Health, said Ghana was likely to spend over 500 million dollars a year in the prevention of malaria.
He noted that malaria was an enemy to human health and impeded economic development, considering the huge amount of money spent annually on it.
He gave a military strategy that could be used in combating the enemy "malaria", saying "to combat an enemy, their mode of communication should be done away with and their source of life be cut".