Obuasi records reduction in malaria

•  Mr. Alex Segbefia,  Health Minister

• Mr. Alex Segbefia,
Health Minister

A cross survey in three major hospitals in the Obuasi Municipality, showed a 75 per cent reduction in malaria cases.

The Municipal Director of Health Services, Dr David Kwasi Amankwa, attributed the massive reduction in malaria prevalence to the Insecticide Residual Spray (IRS), being conducted by the AngloGold Ashanti Malaria Control Limited (Agamal).

The survey which involves the study of disease rate in a population at specific location to estimate the trend, was conducted at the Obuasi Government Hospital, the Edwin Cade Memorial (AngloGold Ashanti Hospital) and the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital.  

The IRS which entails spraying of insecticides on the walls of all the structures and buildings is one of the major tools used in the fight against malaria which accounts for 30 per cent Out Patient Department reported cases in Ghana, and pregnant women and children under five are most vulnerable to it, and with a high death rate if not treated early.

The residual insecticide remains active on the sprayed surface for a long time and any malaria transmitted mosquito, would be knocked down and killed once they pick up the lethal dose.

Speaking to a team from the Africa Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN) at Obuasi on Thursday, Dr Amankwa said “clearly, there is no doubt that IRS has impacted positively in the reduction of malaria cases in the municipality”.

He said even though, there were still malaria cases being reported to the hospitals, the incidence of the disease, which was transmitted to man by the infected female anopheles mosquito, had drastically reduced.

Dr Amankwa said although the strict observance of the new policy of Tests, Treat and Track(TTT) of malaria cases, using the Rapid Diagnostic Test Kit, before administering anti- malaria drugs, had reduced the reported numbers, the IRS had been phenomenal in the reduction of the disease.

Citing himself as an example, Dr Amankwa said he used to get frequent bouts of malaria but when he assumed work in Obuasi, he and his family seldom fell ill to malaria because of the IRS which was being carried out in the municipality between March and April and had a lasting residual effect for nine months.

“The RDT shows the picture much better, as against the conventional diagnostic treatment where everybody who reported of fever at a health facility was given ant- malaria drug without laboratory confirmation,” the Obuasi Municipal Director of Health Service said.

The Programme Manager of Agamal, Sylvester Segbaya, said the IRS was being conducted in the Obuasi municipality and the nine districts of the Upper West Region, which had a high prevalence rate of malaria, with funding from the Global Fund.

He said Agamal was collaborating with the National Malaria Control Programme to source funding from other potential donors to upscale the project because the Global Funding for the programme would come to an end in 2016.

Mr Segbaya said the IRS had drastically reduced the incidence of malaria in the endemic areas in the Northern, Upper West and Upper East regions which were earlier benefitting from the IRS, but were taken off because of the change in the funding mechanism of the Global Fund, resulting in the slash down of resource allocation.

The programme manager stressed the need to sustain the gains chalked in the reduction of malaria prevalence rate so that the country would be on the path of eliminating the burden of the disease.

As part of Corporate Social Responsibility, the IRS initially started in 2006 as Obuasi Malaria Control Centre and inaugurated by former President John Kufour, after the merger of Ashanti Goldfields and AngloGold.

The initial target was to reduce the incidence of malaria by 50 per cent in two years, but a year –and- a- half into the programme, there were 52 per cent reduction in malaria cases in the municipality.

From Salifu Abdul-Rahaman,
Obuasi 

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