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Use funds judiciously to fight malaria – 1st Lady

The First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo has called for judicious use of available resources in the fight against malaria as donor support towards eliminating the disease continues to dwindle.

According to her, “mobilising domestic resources has become more urgent now than it was before” if the country was to achieve its targets in controlling the malaria burden.

“I urge us all to prioritise the available resources and ensure its judicious use to help us achieve the goal we have set for ourselves. The district assemblies’ common fund for instance, stipulates that 0.5 per cent of the fund should be allocated for malaria control activities at the grassroots.

“I entreat all assemblies to use this fund as designated for malaria control. There should be strengthened collaboration between the health service and the assemblies to ensure these monies are put to its rightful use,” she charged.

Mrs Akufo-Addo was addressing a durbar yesterday to mark this year’s World Malaria Day in Somanya in the Eastern Region.

Held on the theme; “Zero Malaria starts with me,”  the event brought together government officials, development partners, civil society organisation, health workers, traditional rulers and school children to drum home the need to personalise actions towards reducing malaria in the country.

While commending recent strides made in tackling the prevalence including reducing mortality rates, improved malaria treatment and vaccination among others, the First Lady cautioned against “inaction and complacency” in the fight against malaria.

“The tendency to celebrate our successes and then go into inertia is unacceptable. We cannot afford to be complacent, because malaria is not complacent. It attacks and attacks. The only way we can defeat it, is to act decisively, consistently and relentlessly in a coordinated and efficient manner,” she advised.

Achieving “zero malaria” for the country, Mrs Akufo-Addo believed, was possible as more countries were moving “towards zero indigenous cases. We also can do it, if we all work together and follow guidelines established by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and our national strategy.”

The WHO Country Director, Dr Owen Kaluwa giving statistics from the 2018 World Malaria Report, revealed that of the 15 countries that contributed to 80 per cent of the world’s malaria burden, all but India were from Sub-Saharan Africa.

He held that African countries must accelerate pace of progress in controlling malaria “if we are to achieve the 40 per cent drop in global malaria cases and deaths by 2020 and other targets of Sustainable Development Goal 3.”

Dr Kaliwa called for “renewed political commitment and investments to eliminate malaria” urging governments to “mobilise all necessary internal and external resources to fight malaria while ensuring intersectional and cross border collaboration.”

Programmes Manager of the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), Dr Keziah Malm stressed the need for health workers to strictly adhere to the T3 Policy; test all suspected malaria cases, treat only positive cases with appropriate antimalarial and track improvement.

According to her, presumptive malaria treatment to an extent contributed to “our death rate currently” aside attitudinal and funding challenges.

“Malaria is treatable; people must take responsibility for their health needs and for that matter malaria. Sleep under treated bed nets every night and always demand for a malaria diagnostic test before accepting treatment.

“Once a fever is confirmed to be malaria, take the complete course of medication as prescribed by a health worker, do not use sub-standard drugs, pregnant women should report to health facilities early to receive at least the five doses of SP for maximum protection. If we all play our individual and collective roles with the firm commitment that it starts with me, eliminating malaria in Ghana is achievable,” she stated.

On his part, Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu in a speech read on his behalf expressed government’s commitment to mobilise needed funding and resources to implement strategies to improve quality healthcare delivery across the country.

 BY ABIGAIL ANNOH, SOMANYA

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