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25.04.2005 Press Review

EDITORIAL: Let Us Unite Agianst Malaria

By Public Agenda

Since time, malaria has been the single largest cause of death among pregnant women and children in Ghana.

In fact, recent figures released by the Ghana Health Services point to the fact that malaria treatment is

getting out of control due to resistant of some malaria parasites against chloroquine in particular.

It therefore came as a big relief when stakeholders came together to develop Artersunate-Amodiaquine combination, which was believed would be the antidote to malaria.

But last week the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana during the launching of activities to mark Africa Malaria Day celebration pressed the panic button over what it called the high cost of the new malaria treatment.

The society points out that the new Artersunate-Amodiaquine treatment for malaria which seeks to replace the more affordable chloroquine could derail the universal treatment of malaria due to its high cost.

The society notes that the new treatment is ten times more than the cost involved in chloroquine treatment and could adversely affect the National Health Insurance Scheme and Insurance Companies due the high cost of the treatment.

One question that comes to mind is, if the country is keen on making malaria treatment affordable, why will the new treatment be priced out of the reach of many people. If what the Pharmaceutical Society is saying is true, the health authorities need to take a second look at the malaria policy.

No needs reminder that despite the fact that AIDS is taking much of the resources and attention malaria remains the biggest killer in the country and the main cause of absenteeism in many work places, leading to the loss of valuable man- hours. The fact that malaria is preventable makes its devastating effects on women and children in particular unpardonable. It is in this vain we call on the health authorities to intensify public education on the causes and prevention of the disease.

If the attitudes of Ghanaians on personal hygiene and environmental cleanliness change, the country would have won 50 per cent of the battle against malaria. For instance the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana notes that one of the biggest challenges facing the country in the fight against malaria is the failure of patients to follow the course of treatment.

Above all, the tendency of stakeholders not to coordinate their activities could be a draw back in the fight against the disease. This paper therefore calls on those involved in health delivery (NGOS, public agencies and donors) to build partnerships and ensure the success of a sound malaria control policy.

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