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26.05.2009 Feature Article

2 persons die each minute, for how long shall we continue to say it?

2 persons die each minute, for how long shall we continue to say it?
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The Executive Director of Volunteer Partnerships for West Africa has reiterated his call for civil society groups and governments in sub-Saharan Africa to take President Obama's visit to sub-Saharan African soil as an opportunity to push for policy change in the handling of malaria.

Hayford Siaw's call came during an interview on Choice fm 102.3, an Accra-based radio station last Tuesday, and marks an unprecedented effort on his part for policy change on malaria programmes in sub-Saharan Africa.

He chronicled the methodology used by United States and Canada and some parts of Europe in eliminating the scourge of this deadly disease and hinted that, President Obama would ''by all means'' mention his country's efforts in combating diseases on the African continent, including malaria.

Mr Siaw said: "It is important to let him know that, the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) which is a direct contribution by the US government in fighting the disease along with the Global Fund and other donors are not being used properly.

"It is time to stop the game of controlling the disease and instead take the serious approach of eradicating it using the same tools the United States employed in

defeating malaria."
Mr Siaw wondered why in the 21st century, we should be advocating to 'control' a disease that can be eradicated if leadership in Africa acts upon the use of proven methods.

"Even if mosquito nets were to be 100% used by an individual, its effectiveness is only 25% and that is why people are still dying. It is time we put the billions of dollars going to purchase nets and 'controlling' the disease into effective mechanisms of eradicating it."

He buttressed this argument by asking the host of the Choice FM Breakfast show, Mr Alfred Ocansey, if the World Health Organization (WHO) had stopped using the 'two people die of malaria a minute' statistic, which he recollects was used 20 years ago to indicate the impact of malaria in Africa.

"That was 20 years ago, is human life such a disposable commodity," he asked.

Despite the colossal expenditure of over $100 million to combat malaria in Ghana in 2006 and 2007, WHO still reports that there is no evidence of decrease in malaria cases and reports an increase in deaths.

The Host of the Choice FM Breakfast show, Mr Alfred Ocansey who had also enquire on the current state of Malaria in Ghana from National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) quoted them as saying Malaria cases for 2008 was less but did not give the figures. The Executive Director of VPWA ask how sustainable is their so call reduction in figures and quoted from a WHO Malaria report on Ghana that in 2002, there was total death of 1917 and it was less in 2003 at 1680 but in 2007, death from Malaria has tripled to 4622.

Meanwhile, some critics have argued that the aerial insecticide dispensing system that the VPWA Executive Director is advocating should be introduced in Ghana to defeat malaria. It is believed that such a system which could rid the country of the disease in less than three years is expensive and we should therefore concentrate on simple mechanism of distributing nets to as much people as possible. Speaking to this reporter, Mr Siaw has described the critics as ''failures refusing to think outside the box''. He also described critics as been ''brainwashed by Malthusians''.

In his opinion, Human life is expensive than the method he is suggesting and society must not tolerate people who desire to suppress population growth in such a way. He also ask why net is been recommended and wondered how many mosquito nets was distributed in Europe and America during their fight to eradicate Malaria in those places. He wondered why the Global Fund will boast it success of fight against Malaria by posting the number of nets they have been able to distribute without calculating the life saved if any on their website.

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