As part of efforts to fight malaria, the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN) has inaugurated a chapter at the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ).
AMMREN is a network of African journalists in 10 African countries and scientists working together to reduce the burden of malaria, which is endemic in most parts of Africa and the number one killer of children under five years.
The aim of the network is to widen its platform for advocacy communication towards the elimination of the disease.
As part of activities marking this year’s World Malaria Day, which fell on April 25, the GIJ chapter made up of a seven-member executive, presided over by Mr Obed Asamoah Mensah, was introduced and inaugurated to commence work in partnership with its mother organisation.
The Executive Secretary of AMMREN, Mrs Charity Binka, said the inauguration of the GIJ chapter of AMMREN would help galvanise more support among journalists as agents of change in the malaria elimination effort.
She said the move was strategic to attract a new crop of journalists to push the post 2015 Millennium Development Goal Agenda of eradicating malaria from the continent.
According to Mrs Binka, there is the need to sustain the gains made so far and intensify efforts for the achievement of behavioural changes among the public in order to eradicate the disease entirely from the country and eventually the continent as a whole.
She challenged the students to use their journalistic tools and skills to change people’s perception and attitude towards malaria and the dangers involved in not doing enough about Ghana’s situation.
A Programme Officer of the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), Madam Vivian Aubyn, said currently child malaria case fatality had dropped from 14.4 per cent in 2000 to 0.6 in 2013.
In spite of these gains, illness due to malaria is still high, especially in rural, hard to reach areas and urban poor communities and the northern sector of the country, but sleeping under Insecticide Treated Nets remains an important strategy for protecting pregnant women and their newborns from malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
The NMCP, in collaboration with stakeholders, has drafted a new strategic plan starting from 2014 to 2018, with a focus on accelerated control, while concentrating efforts on the high transmission areas in the Upper West, East and Northern regions, she said.
Madam Aubyn explained that the aim is to further reduce the malaria morbidity burden and achieve sustained near-zero malaria deaths and a malaria-free Ghana.
She called for increased political commitment that translates into the allocation of funds for control and also urged the private sector to take its proper place in leading the process of growth by supporting malaria control efforts.
The Rector of GIJ, Mr David Newton, said the institute had for the past years been involved in health reporting and communication and had even designed a new course in health communication, which is awaiting approval from the National Accreditation Board.
He said the AMMREN-GIJ chapter would be a perfect channel for addressing some of the health issues and urged the students to embrace the programme and intensify public education on malaria prevention and treatment.
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