2028 malaria elimination target is achievable
2028 malaria elimination target is achievable
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2028 malaria elimination target is achievable

It will be justifiable to say that every adult in Ghana has been infected with malaria before. This is because malaria is endemic, and its transmission is perennial in the country. 

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The disease is life-threatening and it is spread to humans by some types of mosquitoes found in tropical countries, and although deadly, it is preventable and curable.

Symptoms can be mild or life-threatening. Mild symptoms are fever, chills and headache. Severe symptoms include fatigue, confusion, seizures and difficulty in breathing.

Infants, children under five years, pregnant women, travellers to endemic countries and people with HIV or AIDS are at higher risk of severe infection.

Globally, an estimated 249 million cases of malaria occurred in 85 malaria-endemic countries in 2022, a case incidence of 58 per 1000 population risk. For comparison, in 2019 there were an estimated 233 million global cases, a case incidence of 57 per 1000 population at risk. 
Of the 249 million cases noted in 2022, a whopping 233 million (around 94 per cent) were in the World Health Organisation (WHO) African Region, with Nigeria recording 27 per cent, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 12 per cent, Uganda, five per cent, and Mozambique, four per cent, accounting for nearly 50 per cent of all cases. 

An estimated 608, 000 deaths occurred globally due to malaria in 2022, a mortality rate of 14·3 deaths per 100, 000 population at risk. More than 50 per cent of all deaths occurred in just four countries, that is Nigeria, 31 per cent, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 12 per cent, Niger, six per cent, and Tanzania, four per cent. 

WHO estimates that around 70 per cent of the global malaria burden is concentrated in 11 countries; that is Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, India, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda, and Tanzania.

The situation in Ghana, however, is improving as malaria-related deaths have reduced drastically from 2,799 in 2012 to 146 lives in 2023.

The Daily Graphic in its June 27 edition reported that the Ghana Health Service (GHS) says malaria is still a public health threat in the country and it is working at achieving a zero rate of mortality by 2028.

It said progress made as a country included the improvement in testing rate from 38 per cent in 2012 to 98 per cent in 2023, and that the “Malaria prevalence has decreased from 27 per cent in 2011 to 8.6 in 2022, and deaths due to malaria have also decreased significantly”.

We commend the GHS and the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) for sustaining the country’s malaria prevention and control interventions for years, which has translated into steady progress in nationwide indicators, including parasite prevalence among children six to 59 months which declined from 28 per cent in 2011 to 8.6 per cent according to preliminary data from the 2022 Demographic Health Survey (DHS).

Based on the current success of malaria prevention in the country, the then National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) transitioned to NMEP last year with interventions such as continuous distribution of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) improvement in antenatal clinics and child immunisation clinics.

Other interventions are testing before treating and intermittent preventive treatment for pregnant women, indoor residual spraying (IRS), seasonal malaria chemoprevention, larval source management, and malaria vaccine. 

Additional interventions proposed are intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in school-age children, post-discharge malaria chemoprevention and mass drug administration.

The Daily Graphic calls on the GHS and the NMEP to consolidate its gains by ensuring that appropriate diagnosis are provided to all suspected malaria cases with prompt and effective treatment.

We also call on them to ensure that all persons in the country use at least one malaria preventive measure, ensure the timely and adequate supply of quality-assured malaria commodities to all service delivery points as well as improve resource mobilisation and maximise the efficient use of available resources for greater public health impact and finally strengthen malaria surveillance and monitoring and evaluation system towards the 2028 malaria elimination target.

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