Ghana has been fighting malaria since pre independence with interventions like aerial spraying and use of chloroquine. But one may ask; what has been the achievement so far, and why is Ghana still fighting malaria?
Statistics from the Ghana Health Service (GHS) indicated that 7,079 cases of malaria have been recorded in the first quarter of 2017 out of which 1,279 of the reported cases are children below age 5. This sounds alarming meaning malaria tops all Out Patient Department (OPD) cases at hospitals.
In accordance to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3, which seeks to coordinate global development efforts to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages, through mechanisms targeted to ending epidemics of diseases like malaria by the year 2030, government and NGOs have upped their advocacy and implementations to eliminate malaria. Some of these interventions include the “Nets up campaign”.
On the other hand, the program manager of the Ghana Malaria Control Program; Dr. Constance Bart Plange has refuted claims that malaria tops cases reported at OPD in hospitals. In an interview, Dr. Plange stated that Ghana has made significant progress in its fight to end malaria, adding that all cases presented at hospitals are treated as malaria although they do not test to prove. “We have done very well in our fight to end malaria and I’m hoping that, by the the year 2020, we should be able to talk about starting elimination”. She added.
Somewhere in 2016 government rolled out an initiative where Ghanaians in almost all the regions were given free mosquito treated nets following claims that the net is expensive and not everyone can afford. This laudable initiative has not landed the nation on the path of elimination yet, and behavioral change is and has always been the canker. Though governments have invested more, and should be commended, I think there’s the need to adopt preventive and curative measures and also focus on malaria endemic areas.
Some preventive measures to promote implementation to propel Ghana along the path towards elimination and attainment of global development are:
Creation of drainage systems: There should be more drainage systems at appropriate places in the country. This will not only help eliminate malaria but other related diseases as well.
Inclusive participation: Eliminating malaria is the core responsibility of everyone. Therefore chiefs, leaders, and CSOs should be leading the advocacy work at all levels.
Consistent Sensitization: the good news about malaria is that it can be prevented, only if things are done right. People need to be educated more and in a practical way. Without quality inclusive education, the success of the SDGs will be limited. We shouldn’t stir up advocacy and implementation when there’s an outbreak or when lives are lost. The time to stay is now! Let’s pay attention to proper sanitation and build on existing initiatives to end malaria for good.