Unbelievable! Bed nets as fishing nets?

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

Malaria kills many people in the tropics. Children are mostly at the receiving end of the deadly disease.

Records indicate that more than half of attendance at out-patients departments (OPDs) of most hospitals are related to malaria.

Everybody knows that malaria is caused by a parasite known as plasmodium which is spread through the bite of an infected female mosquito.

But it is also a fact that mosquitoes breed well in unkempt and filthy environments caused by human actions.

What this means is that if the people maintain a very clean environment by clearing their backyards of weeds, cleaning the gutters and not littering the surroundings, the mosquitoes cannot find breeding grounds.

Many governments have managed to eliminate malaria as a public health concern, but not in Ghana. Although health professionals are doing their best to bring the disease under control, thesolution lies in adopting the dictum, “Prevention is better than cure”.

The efforts to find a cure for malaria hangs in the balance. On the African continent, different kinds of medications have been produced over the years for the treatment of the disease.

Although there is no generalised vaccine for malaria, there is hope that there will be a drug to cure the disease in the near future.

Malaria is said to be a very stubborn health concern because the parasites have developed resistance against all the interventions, including anti-malarial drugs.

In spite of the frustration faced by health professionals in the control of malaria, there is hope that the disease can be tamed. It can be treated if our government commits more resources to the health sector, as the professionals have the capacity to deliver.

The Daily Graphic appeals to health professionals, research institutions, drug manufacturing companies and herbalists to step up their actions to produce the vaccines that will stimulate our immune system against the parasites.

We find it very unfortunate that a section of our society that has benefited from insecticide-treated bed nets have found other uses for the health intervention.

Reports from Sekesua in the Eastern Region reveal that some of the beneficiaries are using the insecticide-treated bed nets for fishing or as curtains.

We do not want to believe that because the nets were given out for free, the people do not value them, despite the fact that the nets have helped to reduce the effects of malaria on the population.

Perhaps the people down-play the importance of the nets because health professionals in the area have not educated them on their uses.

The Daily Graphic urges the Manya Krobo District Assembly, opinion leaders and health professionals to step up public education on the bed nets, so that the beneficiaries will use them for the intended purpose, especially when it has been established that malaria is the main health problem in the area.

We are very much concerned about the actions of those residents of Sekesua who want to defeat the objectives of the bed nets, which are funded by donor groups such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to prevent malaria.

There are other concerns that have been expressed about some users of the bed nets, but until those concerns are dealt with, the Daily Graphic appeals to all users to desist from misusing the nets in order to achieve the goal of the initiative by our government, in conjunction with donors, to prevent malaria.

The misplaced use of the bed nets demonstrates the failure of the information, education and communication strategy that accompanies the bed net campaign.

The Sekesua bed net failure calls for a rethink of any such campaign.