Malaria Control Takes New Dimension

From right: Dr Constance Bart-Plange, Dr Gloria Quansah with other officers of the National Malaria Control Programme. INSET: Mr James Frimpong

The fight against malaria-related illness is gradually shifting from malaria control to malaria prevention in the country.

Initiatives such as indoor residual spraying and free distribution of insecticide treated mosquito nets have been introduced as preventive measure against malaria in order to reduce the malaria prevalence in the country.

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) through its National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) has taken a step further to introduce the administration of preventive malaria treatment known as the Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC) among children in malaria-prone areas in the country.

The adoption of SMC by GHS is envisaged to provide protection for children between the ages of three to 59 months against clinical illness throughout the period of greatest malaria risk.

SMC is the intermittent administration of full treatment courses of an anti-malaria medicine (Sulphadoxine Pyrimethamine SP and Amodiaquin AQ) during the malaria season to prevent malaria illness.

The Programme Officer of the NMCP, James Frimpong, speaking at a press conference to update the media on malaria control as well as the interventions and plans for the celebration of the world malaria day, said the exercise would be targeted at the three northern regions.

He said the seasonality of malaria transmission and rain fall patterns in the target areas and the incidence of malaria in those regions make it susceptible to malaria hence the decision to adopt the SMC.

Mr Frimpong also noted that the combination of SP and AQ was chosen for the adoption of SMC because it conferred greater protection than other drug combination.

‘SP and AQ retain their efficacy in those areas with seasonal transmission where SMC is appropriate. It is also safe, well tolerated and relatively cheap,’ he said.

The Programme Officer said according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) policy recommendation, the complete three days treatment course would be given each month for three to four months in the targeted areas.

Dr Constance Bart-Plange, Programme Manager of the NMCP who interacted with the media called on donor agencies and government to sustain their funding.

She said although the country was recording significant reduction in malaria, the country is yet to eradicate it.

She said challenges like the over treatment of malaria and the attitude of people towards seeking early treatment for malaria still exists adding that until such issues were addressed, malaria eradication in the country would take longer than expected.

Dr Gloria Quansah, Deputy Director General of the GHS said the country has chalked a lot of successes in malaria control with deaths due to malaria among pregnant women reducing drastically as a result of active public education and awareness on public health issues.

She concluded with a call for all to help in the fight against malaria as the country together with other African countries mark the world malaria Day on April 25, 2014 on the theme: ‘Invest In The future, Defeat Malaria.’

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri

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