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15.10.2004 Regional News

Insufficiency of mosquito nets sending malaria cases up

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Accra, Oct. 15, GNA - Dr Constance Barte Plange, Programme Manager of the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), on Friday said the inadequacy of mosquito nets in the country was frustrating the efforts at controlling malaria among children and pregnant women.

She said currently there were just about 500,000 bed nets available in Ghana instead of at least the expected four million, considering when the national malaria control programme started some four years ago. She explained that education on the usage of such nets had been well disseminated and what was now needed was to make the nets available to the people, adding, "that is what the Government is determined to do, to meet the two million yearly availability target".

Speaking at the opening of a 10-week training course for selected health social scientists from all over the country, Dr Barte Plange said when the Government was able to meet that target, children and pregnant women, who formed over 24 per cent of Ghana's population would be able to sleep under bed nets.

The training is being organized by the Health Research Unit of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in collaboration with the School of Public Health, University of Ghana with sponsorship from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

It is aimed at equipping and sharpening the skills of health scientists to be able to ensure the relevance and impact of tropical diseases control through stronger social science partnerships in health policy planning and implementation. The Coordinator of the Training Programme, Dr Margaret Gyapong who is also the Director, Dodowa Health Research Centre, said there was currently few individuals with social science skills and professional competence to conduct study into social behaviours of people, their perception and acceptance of a particular health intervention, leading to non-researched implementation of tropical disease control strategies with no effective result.

She said the training programme was, therefore, to help develop and upgrade the social science competencies in research implementation, particularly into malaria and to foster closer links between social sciences research, policy making and programme implementation.

Dr Gyapong said the training would involve the study of the: "Overview of Malaria Control and Its Priority and Strategies Research Needs"; "Issues in Policy Making and Implementation"; "Data Collection, Analysis and Report Writing" and "Proposal Development". She said, as part of the training, participants would go for field attachments in the Kassena-Nankana, Kintampo and Dangbe West Districts. Dr Melville George, Country Representative of the WHO in an address read for him stressed the importance of such training, saying Ghana was the first country to have been sponsored to undertake such a programme.

He said: "We need to understand the germ theory notion of disease causation - for instance, what causes malaria or guinea worm? How do we lower or eradicate such diseases? What attempts can be made by individuals and families to reduce the risk of malaria or other infections?"

Dr George also proposed that social science knowledge must be part of the training of doctors of public health, while social scientists must be trained and encouraged to work anywhere. 15 Oct. 04

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