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03.05.2006 Press Release

FIGHTING THE MALARIA MENACE

By Ghanaian-Chronicle

Available statistics indicate that though considerable improvements are being made to curb the menace of malaria, it still remains a major cause of death, particularly among women and children under five years on the African continent and Ghana for that matter.
To know that malaria kills 2000 children daily and between one and two million people annually, with about 75% - 90% of all cases occurring in sub-Saharan Africa as indicated in an INDEPTH Network report, shows clearly that there is much to be done if we as a nation want to decrease the prevalence rate to the barest minimum.

Just like any other disease on the African continent and particularly in Ghana, these deaths deprive the nation of quality human resource, resulting in other devastating effects such as poverty.

There is therefore the need for all factors for cure and control, such as adequate government support for malaria programmes, effective drugs for cure and a strong private-public partnership, to be assembled towards total elimination and effective management of the killer disease.

This would put in place a network that would provide health and demographic data and research to help set health priorities and policies towards achieving national goals in this regard.

It is in light of this that the appeal of the head of the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), Dr. Constance Bart Plange, to government to give the highest priorities to their activities has to be heeded to, to enable them tackle their mandate properly for the benefit of all Ghanaians.

Further, government must help strengthen research and development activities and provide training and technical assistance to research centers in the country to keep up with modern trends for preventive and control methods.

It is also important that the NMCP double their efforts at improving the present situation through consistent public awareness on the disease and its related matters.

For instance, the result of a survey conducted last year, which showed that about 30% households were using insecticide treated nets as against 2.7% in 2003 and more than 40% of pregnant women using drugs to prevent malaria, should not make us relent on our oars.

To this end, the salvation message must be sent across to all areas, especially the rural settlements in the country, for maximum and satisfactory results to reflect in subsequent surveys.

It is also worth noting that the fight against malaria cannot be won without reference to cleanliness in our society.

What is most important is to find ways of changing the public behaviour with respect to disregard for the need to keep the environment clean.

To further tackle the problem of indiscriminate dumping of refuse, there is the need for law enforcement against offenders to deter others from carrying out similar acts.

All these notwithstanding, we at The Chronicle say kudos to various organizations, particularly Anglogold Ashanti and others, that have provided funding for a multi-billion malaria control programme in the Obuasi municipality and other areas to fight against malaria and other endemic diseases for healthy lives and national development.

We therefore entreat other organizations to emulate the example of Anglogold Ashanti and contribute their quota in saving people from such diseases.

We also call on government to renew its commitment to the elimination of malaria and other killer diseases such as HIV/AIDS among others in the country.

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