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17.05.2006 Health

MOH signs MOU for biological control of malaria


Accra, May 16, GNA - The Ministry of Health on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Labiofam, a Cuban agency, for the use of biological agents to eradicate malaria.

The project would also integrate vector control through biological means into the National Malaria Control Programme in order to reduce the high incidence of the epidemic in affected communities.

Major Courage Quashigah (rtd), Minister of Health and Mr Felix Quintana, Vice President of Labiofam signed the MOU. Major Quashigah said the signing of the MOU marked the beginning of an era to focus on the control of mosquitoes in high breeding areas, instead of promoting the use of treated mosquito nets.

He said the project would also involve the application of biological means such as biolarvicides Bactivec and Griselef against the anopheles mosquitoes, and include environmental sanitation and educational activities to diminish risks of the disease.

"It is expected that at the early stage of the project, the incidence of malaria and the risk of suffering from it will diminish, especially in children under-five years and pregnant women", he said.

The Minister said Ghana remained a malaria hyper-endemic country, with 45 per cent of illnesses reported at the Out Patient=92s Departments attributed to malaria.

Major Quashigah said the country had adopted the Roll Back Malaria strategy since 2000 and was currently strengthening health services to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of reducing malaria mortality by 50 per cent by the year 2010.

This was expected to be achieved through the prevention and improvement in case management and the use of biolarvicides as augmenting strategy to ensure a higher level of success, he said.

He stated that mosquito larvae would also be destroyed through the application of biological means to water bodies identified as breeding places, and foster community involvement in those areas.

Major Quashigah called for the support of the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment at the Regional, Municipal and District levels and expressed the hope that Ghana would be the centre for the production of larvicides for the West Africa Sub-Region, when the project was completed.

Mr Lucas Domingos, Cuban Ambassador, said the signing of the MOU showed commitment on the part of the Cuban Government to fulfil its agreements reached during the 13th Cuba-Ghana Joint Commission.

He said the relationship that existed between both countries would be strengthened through the collaborative effort to support the malaria vector control programme.

Mr Quintana expressed appreciation to the Ministry for giving the Agency an opportunity to share their expertise in eradicating the epidemic and expressed the hope that the project would result in social, health and economic gains for the country.

Mr Abraham Dwuma Odoom, Deputy Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment, said the project would be beneficial to districts, since efforts to eradicate the disease had not been successful.

"With this project we are assured that our Mutual District Insurance Levy would not continue to take greater part to treat the high incidence of malaria infections in our districts," he said.