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24.04.2004 General News

Malaria Voucher System launced in Ho

By GNA

Ho, April 24, GNA- Mr Kwasi Owusu-Yeboa, Volta Regional Minister on Friday expressed concern about pregnant women who take malaria drugs without prescription. He said several pregnant women and children died of the disease in 2003.

Mr Owusu-Yeboa was speaking at the 2004 National Africa Malaria Day Celebrations and the launch of a Voucher System for procurement of Impregnated and Treated Mosquito Nets (ITM) in Ho. He said government would continue to pursue policies such as cuts on import duties of the nets and drugs to fight malaria, until it was no longer a public health hazard.

The day had the theme "A Malaria Free Future: 'Children to Children to Roll Back Malaria'".

Dr Mrs Constance Bat-Plange, National Malaria Control Programme Manager said the 2005 target was that, at least 60 per cent of parents and guardians would act promptly when their children were afflicted. She said currently only 3.5 per cent of children below five years and pregnant women sleep under the treated nets, while the parasite had grown resistance to the most affordable chloroquine.

Dr Mrs Bat-Plange said three million nets were needed if all children and pregnant women should be covered and also centres to re-treat these nets after the medicines had faded from the nets.

Dr George Amofa, Director of Public Health of the GHS said while there had been evidence for years that sleeping under the treated net helped to prevent mosquito bite, attempts by the Service to translate the findings in any meaningful scale had not been successful. He said the new voucher system in the Volta Region was an attempt to address the problems in previous distribution schemes, which have not been very effective.

Dr Amofa said with support from Department for International Development (DIFD), which funded the scheme, with support from USAID and NETMARK, the nets could be obtained at designated shops at reduced prices.

Dr Mac-Damien Dedzo, Senior Medical Officer, in charge of Public Health in the Volta Region said awareness was being created at child Health Centres, where pregnant women and mothers would be given vouchers to be taken to designated shops to pay differences in prices, to own the nets. He said apart from increasing access, it was expected that more women would be attracted to attend antenatal clinic and thereby increase supervised deliveries.

Dr Dedzo said depending on the impact made the system would be extended to other regions, adding that the Volta Region was picked for the pilot programme because it had a culture of using mosquito nets, many of which were not treated.

Mrs Dorothy Rozga, UNICEF Representative in Ghana said the Fund would provide the GHS with bed net re-treatment kits and vitamin A capsule during the Child Health Promotion Scheme Week slated for the first week in May.

There were statements of support from Dr Melvine George, WHO representative in Ghana, and representatives of DFID and NETMARK. Togbe Dekortsu II, Afetor Fia of Ho, who presided, dismissed the notion that malaria was caused by demons and advised people who got afflicted to seek prompt medical treatment.

Africa Malaria Day was instituted after 44 African Heads of State met in Abuja, Nigeria on April 25, 2000 with a declaration of commitment to fight malaria on the continent.

The day is used to draw public attention to the havoc caused by malaria and what could be done to control it. Malaria fact card launched Koforidua, April 24, GNA- The President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH), Mr Frank Amoako Boateng has called on all health care professionals to educate the public on preventable diseases and malaria, and also offer information on health issues to the public. He said malaria which is a public health issue required the concerted efforts of all since about 44 per cent of all out- patients at the country's health facilities suffered from malaria.

Mr Boateng said this at the introduction of the malaria awareness enhancement project and the launching of the malaria Fact Card at Koforidua on Friday.

The day marked the celebration of the African Malaria Day which falls on Sunday, April 25.

The fast card gives information and guidelines on the signs and symptoms of malaria, its prevention, use of anti malaria drugs and how to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and prevent its bite.

Organised by the Pharmaceutical Care Team of the PSGH, and sponsored by Pharma Info Consult and Beracah Pharmacy, it was attended by Pharmacists, dispensing technicians/ technologies, licensed chemical sellers and health care professions from the Eastern Region. The slogan was "children for children to roll back malaria."

Mr Boateng pointed out that malaria kills 1.1 million people every year, most of them children, adding that malaria is the number one cause of deaths for children in Africa.

He explained that to ensure that pharmacists and other members of the pharmaceutical care team assert themselves in public health issues, the Commonwealth Pharmaceutical Association in collaboration with the International Pharmaceutical Federation and the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, designed the project to enhance malaria awareness through the use of the malaria Fact Card which has been printed in six Ghanaian languages.

He said the Society with the support of its collaborators would make available to all the community pharmacists and licensed chemical sellers shops in the regions, copies of the fast card to be displayed in their facilities to enable the public have access to information on malaria.

Mr Boateng appealed to the various organisations and district/municipal assemblies to assist PSGH in reaching out to wider section of the people by procuring more receptacles and print more fact cards.

He urged the participants to impact the knowledge acquired to the public.

Mr Peter Segbor, Executive Secretary of PSGH, who spoke on the new anti-malaria drug policy to be introduced soon, explained that chloroquine would continue to be used together with a new drug, artesunate-amodiaquine for the treatment of malaria until chloroquine is faced out by 2006.

He said a number of seminars and workshops would be held to disseminate the policy and build consensus on the strategy for change, while information, education and communication strategy would be developed and implemented to inform and educate the public on the new drugs.

Mr Segbor said emphasis would be placed on providing information on treatment and the need to comply with treatment. On supply of drugs, he said Ghana would import quantities of artesunate-amodiaquine, while supporting the private sector to re-engineer their technologies and systems for producing the drug locally.

Mr Segbor, who is also a member of the anti malaria policy review task force said since the new drug, artesunate-amodiaquine is more expensive than chloroquine, emphasis would be placed on improving clinical laboratory diagnosis of malaria, while government invested in the review of the guidelines for the treatment of malaria and the training of prescribes including private sector pharmacists and chemical sellers.

Beracah Pharmacy and Pharma Info Consult mounted an exhibition to display some of their new products and drugs for malaria. 24 April 04

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