Sekondi, May 2, GNA - The Ghana Health Service (GHS) would soon begin the use of a combination of Artesunate and Amodiaquine to replace Chloroquine for the treatment of malaria in all health institutions in the country.
The combination has proved to be safe and more potent in the treatment of the disease, which had become dangerous especially among pregnant women and children, Doctor Sylvester Anemana, Western Regional Director of the GHS told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in an interview at Sekondi at the weekend.
He said chloroquine, apart from its side effects, has for sometime now, proved to be ineffective in the treatment of malaria, which has become a major health problem for the country.
Dr. Anemana said that funds for the control of Malaria, Tuberculosis (TB), HIV/AIDS and other diseases would be sourced from the Global Fund (GF) established by the group of eight ("G8") countries, to assist developing countries in their health management programmes.
Dr. Anemana said although Artesunate and Amodiaquine are comparatively expensive, "they have proved to be more potent and therefore, the current option in the fight to eradicate malaria".
"Under our circumstances, we will only rely on acceptable and curative drugs, instead of using cheap ones that are not effective," he added, and added that, the two drugs, which have "low side effects", ensure rapid cure if properly administered.
Dr. Anemana said the adoption of the Anti-Malaria Drug Policy for Ghana by the GHS was a step in the right direction and would support efforts aimed at eradicating malaria.
The final draft of the policy, he said, was based on recommendations of a task force, established by the National Malaria Control Programme to research into the potency of anti-Malaria drugs between October 2002 and January 2004.
The task force reviewed the efficacy of chloroquine among pregnant women, malaria morbidity and mortality, quality of anti-malaria drugs on the market, socio-economic aspects of malaria, cost effectiveness of new anti-malaria drugs and malaria in pregnancy.
Findings of the task force, which were adopted in March 2004, said in part that, the correct administration of the proposed two drugs should be strictly complied with to avoid the malaria parasites developing resistance to the drugs.
Dr. Anemana said the taskforce identified the combination of Artesunate and Amodiaquine drugs as a class "C" drug that has to be procured only with a doctor's prescription, however, after its adoption and general use, it would be re-classified to allow non-pharmacists to dispense it."
It proposed the importation of the drugs in sufficient quantities, while the private sector is being "re-engineered with technologies and logistics, to enable the drugs to be produced locally.
To ensure patronage, the locally produced drugs, would be packaged as a single drug in blister packs that would be promoted and implemented in a way that would discourage smuggling or "leakages" to other countries.
The taskforce proposed the intensification of clinical and laboratory diagnosis of malaria, while the essential drug list be revised to reflect the changes. 02 May 04