The National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) has cited inadequate funding as a major hindrance to the control and elimination of malaria in the country.
According to the NMCP, since 2018, its budget had not been met, indicating that the trend had been the same for many years.
It said in 2018 the programme required GH¢100.94 million but what was potentially available was GH¢44.49 million. In 2019 the programme received GH¢30.47 million out of the GH¢77.62 million it needed, while for this year it had put in a request for GH¢78.43 million but indications were that the programme would receive GH¢31.67 million.
The figures indicate a deficit of GH¢56.44 million, GH¢47.15 million and GH¢46.75 million for 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively.
Addressing 11 winners of a malaria advocacy project in Accra yesterday, the Programme Manager, Dr Kezia Malm, said Ghana was still at the malaria control phase and was yet to move to the pre-elimination, elimination and eradication stages.
She, therefore, called on the government to prioritise malaria control and eradication by committing more funds from the Consolidated Fund to the course because malaria was still endemic in the country.
Dr Malm said in the era of dwindling donor funding, partly because of the country’s attainment of a lower-middle income status and other global economic issues, the government needed to step up its efforts towards malaria elimination.
She also appealed to the media and other stakeholders to step up advocacy to help make more gains while sustaining those already made.
“If the country scales up interventions and do more, we would bring malaria to a zero point,” she said.
A Social and Behaviour Change Communications Specialist with the NMCP, Mrs Eunice Mintah-Agyemang, said the financial situation would make the delivery of the National Malarial Strategic Plan 2020 herculean.
The plan, she said, had an objective to reduce the malaria burden by 75 per cent as Ghana is a malaria endemic-country, recording high percentages of outpatient department (OPD) attendance.
Mrs Mintah-Agyemang noted that notwithstanding the challenges, a lot of progress had been made, stressing that more funding was required to sustain the gains.
Malaria mortality figures had reduced, as 428 people died from malaria in 2018, compared to 2,137 in 2015, she said, adding that admissions had also reduced by 35 per cent, while illnesses had been reduced by 18 per cent.
Mrs Mintah-Agyemang emphasised that more funding was required to intensify ongoing interventions as in 2018 alone, the country recorded approximately 11 million suspected malaria cases in the Outpatient Department (OPD) and an average of 30,215 suspected malaria cases daily.
She indicated that some of interventions that had so far been introduced included the treated mosquito nets, indoor residual spraying, administration of malaria drugs to pregnant women, malaria vaccination and the seasonal chemo preventive therapy that was targeted at children below five years in the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions.
She said the zero malaria targets were feasible as a lot had been achieved, but more needed to be done because malaria remained a national risk, with an impact on social and economic development.
About the advocacy
The Hope for Future Generation (HFFG), a non-governmental organisation, in partnership with Results UK, a UK agency, selected 11 young individuals through a competitive process to be trained as malaria advocates.
Selected from 10 regions, the advocates are expected to support and partner with the National Malaria Control Programme to advocate domestic resources and address issues of malaria in the country.
The advocacy project is also being implemented in Sierra Leone and Tanzania.
The Executive Director of HFFG, Mrs Cecilia Senoo, urged the selected youth to position themselves to become strong young advocates for malaria eradication.