How malaria is killing Ghanaians

BY: Augustina Tawiah

Malaria remains one of the most severe causes of illness particularly in sub-saharan Africa, where according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), was home to 90 percent of malaria cases and 92 percent of malaria deaths recorded in 2015.

The disease is estimated to cost the African continent more than $12 billion every year.

Ghana is no exception as far as malaria cases are concerned as the disease is one of the leading causes of illness in the country.

According to the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), Ghana continues to be a malaria endemic-country, recording high percentages of out patient department (OPD) attendance.

It said in 2017 for instance, malaria contributed to 34 percent of OPD cases, 22 percent inpatients admissions and 2.1 percent inpatient deaths.


Although the disease affects all ages, children under five and pregnant women are the most vulnerable groups, the NMCP has said.

Over the years, though Ghana has introduced various interventions and programmes aimed at reducing the rate of infection and deaths due to malaria, the country continues to record quite a number of malaria cases, especially among children.

In 2016, 590 malaria deaths were recorded among children under five years.

This, however, reduced to 327 in 2017. Children are the future leaders of this country and so we cannot continue to lose them at this rate, especially to preventable diseases like malaria.

Interventions

Some of these interventions that have so far been introduced include the treated mosquito nets, indoor residual spraying, administration of malaria drugs to pregnant women and the seasonal chemo preventive therapy that is targeted at children below five years in the Upper East and West regions, among others.

It is important that both parents and children take advantage of these interventions in order to help reduce malaria cases.

Parents should use the treated nets for the reason it was given out - they should let their children sleep under them and not use them for gardening as some do with the nets.

The situation whereby people do not go for any malaria test but take the drugs is not heathy because it can lead to resistance of the drug. Pregnant mothers should also take the full course of the malaria drugs giving during pregnancy.

Again, we should keep our surroundings clean and particularly, destroy all breeding places of mosquitos which are the causes of malaria.

Efforts

Malaria kills and it will take our individual efforts to stop it. The government through the Ghana Health Service and the NMCP is doing its part. Let us also play our part.

This is why the disclosure by Mr Kwame Dzudzorli Gakpey, a Social and Behaviour Change Communications Specialist at the NMCP, that the Ghana Health Service and the NMCP would be administering free antimalaria drugs to children below five years in the Upper East and West regions, where the disease is considered to be endermic, is welcomed.

In an interview he granted the Junior Graphic recently, he said the intervention, which started in June and is supposed to end in September would see health personnel and community health care officers moved from house-to-house to administer the drugs to the children.

The northern region, which is another malaria endermic region is part of this intervention but due to lack of funds, they have not been included in this year's programme.

Malaria is dangerous and kills very fast

Aside this, it is a major cause of absenteeism in schools and work. It is also a major cause of poverty in the country. Malaria can slow down a child's academic progress while in school. Money that could have been used to settle their school fees would be spent on hospital bills due to malaria infections. Let us put in every effort to stop it.

Corporate Ghana should also support the government and the health sector to implement the various interventions that are aimed at reducing the incidence of malaria in the country.