Malaria elimination: Everyone has a role to play

TODAY is World Malaria Day, which is being commemorated across the globe to recount the successes and challenges in the fight against malaria. 


Malaria is a disease that affects all populations, especially in Africa. It is a great concern to governments as African countries have the highest burden of the disease.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) figures show sub-Saharan Africa alone accounts for about 94 per cent of cases and 95 per cent of deaths.

Though malaria is preventable and treatable, statistics show that it is still a disease of global threat as half of the global population continues to be at risk from the parasite-causing disease.

The disease kills a child every minute. The WHO notes that “in recent years, progress in reducing malaria has ground to a standstill. Not only does malaria continue to directly endanger health and cost lives, but it also perpetuates a vicious cycle of inequity.”

In Ghana, malaria is endemic and perennial, with children under five and pregnant women sharing a brunt of the disease.

The good news, however, is that the country has chalked up many successes in its malaria prevention activities and interventions over the years. This has become possible largely as a result of the implementation of cost-effective interventions.

The Daily Graphic is happy to note that against the National Strategic Plan target of 90 per cent reduction in malaria deaths by 2025 using 2019 as the baseline, malaria-related deaths in all ages reduced from 333 to 146 by the end of 2023. This is significant as it shows a reduction of 56 per cent, reducing malaria-related deaths by more than half. In fact, all the statistics point to an improvement.

But in spite of the achievements, the Ghana Health Service says malaria remains a major public health problem. It continues to be the leading cause of outpatient clinic attendance (over 5.2 million confirmed malaria cases were recorded in 2022), a major cause of admission and exerts a huge financial burden on the country’s National Health Insurance Scheme, as well as 1-2 per cent of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product. The disease also costs businesses in Ghana around US$6.58 million annually.

It was, therefore, heart-warming when in January this year, the National Malaria Elimination Strategic Plan was launched as one of the key activities along the elimination path. It is aimed at providing strategic direction for malaria elimination in Ghana, taking cognisance of findings and recommendations from various activities.

Among other key objectives, it further aims to achieve malaria elimination in 21 districts by 2028. This is indeed a laudable idea and the Daily Graphic believes that malaria elimination is possible. 

But we are of the view that in spite of the huge successes we have chalked up as a country, for which we applaud various stakeholders, notably the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service, there is more we can do to further reduce the malaria burden. 

As the world celebrates the day, it is important to remind ourselves that in spite of the achievements, there is the urgent need to expand equitable access to promotive, preventive and curative healthcare services in the malaria elimination efforts.

In this vein, we are happy that the country, through the ministry and the Ghana Health Service, has shown commitment to tackling health inequalities with the provision of more health facilities such as CHPS compounds and the Agenda 111 to bring health care closer to the people.  

While commending the government and relevant stakeholders for the efforts to end malaria, we urge them to learn from countries that have eliminated malaria in order to chart the right path towards a malaria-free Ghana. 

It is important for the 21 districts earmarked for malaria elimination by 2028 to receive essential malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment services. There is also greater need for community ownership and community engagement in decision-making processes to tackle malaria, to ensure success.

Another key strategy of the malaria elimination path is to ensure 100 per cent of the population has adequate knowledge, the right attitudes, practices and requisite skills for malaria elimination by 2028, and the Daily Graphic is hopeful this will be carried through to rid the country of the disease.

Malaria elimination is possible in Ghana and we all have a role to play towards it. Let’s live and act the slogan: “Zero Malaria Starts with Me and You”.

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