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08.06.2004 General News

Ghana records low use of mosquito bed nets

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Accra, June 8, GNA - The Ministry of Health said on Monday that Ghana might not achieve the target of ensuring that 60 per cent of pregnant women and children under five slept under Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs) for malaria control by 2005.

Dr George Amofa, Public Health Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), said Ghana had recorded only 3.3 per cent and "this record is one of the lowest rates of bed net use in Africa". "This has been so because of the widespread feeling of some people that sleeping under a bed net is an old remedy for insect bite control."

Dr Amofa was speaking at a ceremony in Accra where Mobil Ghana Limited presented 60,000 vouchers worth 240,000 dollars to the Ghana Health Service in Accra for distribution to pregnant women. The vouchers, which would provide the women with a 40 per cent discount on the cost of the nets, forms part of Mobil Ghana's contribution to the "Roll Back Malaria", programme in Ghana. Dr Amofa said the challenge had, therefore, been education and how to implement research findings.

The designed vouchers, by Mobil would be distributed at designated antenatal clinics in Greater Accra and Ashanti Regions. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Ministry of Health (MOH) and GHS are supporting the programme. Dr Amofa stressed the need for intensified education about the ITN particularly among the high-risk groups and called for the involvement of the public, private and government sectors to expand support to "roll back" malaria.

Mr Sam Kareem, Managing Director of Mobil Ghana Limited, who made the presentation said the campaign was not only meant for pregnant women and children but also covered the orphanage institutions which would receive 2,000 treated bed nets.

The First Lady, Mrs Theresa Kufuor in a speech read for her commended Mobil for the initiative and urged other companies to emulate them.

Dr Kweku Afriyie, Minister of Health, in a speech read for him said malaria contributed to the increased maternal morbidity and mortality, killed 16,000 children each year and disrupted work thus lowering economic performance.

He called on the private sector to join the campaign to build a sustainable commercial market for the ITNs.

Multiple scientific studies in Africa by the World Health Organisation (WHO) showed that one of the best ways to avoid malaria was to sleep under an Insecticide Treated Net (ITN).

Research has shown that 97 per cent of mosquito bites occurred between the hours of 2200 hours and 0600 hours when people are sleeping. In Ghana, Malaria affects about three million people each year and the worst hit groups are pregnant women and children under five years. Malaria during pregnancy is the major cause of the low birth weight in the Sub-Saharan Africa and countries with high rates of malaria have low performing economies. 08 June 04

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