Ghana, today, joins the international community to mark World Malaria Day, which has been set aside by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to increase awareness and efforts to control the disease.
This year’s commemoration on the theme, “Zero malaria starts with me,” is to, among others, vitalise individuals to personalise actions towards the prevention and reduction of malaria.
At the international level, it has been reported that after more than a decade of steady advances in fighting malaria, progress has stalled as no significant gains were made in reducing malaria cases in the period 2015 to 2017.
According to WHO’s latest world malaria report, the estimated number of malaria deaths in 2017, pegged at 435,000, remained virtually unchanged over the previous year.
However, Ghana has some good news to gloat over.
Elsewhere in today’s edition it is reported that Ghana has achieved its target for reducing deaths associated with malaria as mortality rate has been cut down by 85 per cent from 2,799 in 2012 to 428 by end of 2018.
Per the country’s strategic plan for malaria control (2014-2020) the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) had set out to reduce malaria morbidity and mortality by 75 per cent based on the 2012 figures.
Programmes Manager of NMCP, Dr Keziah Malm at a press briefing on Tuesday said under-five malaria case fatality rate and malaria related admissions had also reduced by 73 per cent and 18 per cent respectively by end of 2018.
This is good news and we commend stakeholders in the health sector, successive governments and development partners for the measures they put in place to achieve this feat.
This is an indication that our collective efforts as a nation have not been in vain as eight malaria deaths recorded every day in 2012 had been reduced to one person per day.
We must however be measured in our jubilation as statistics from the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) suggest that more needed to be done especially with controlling the disease.
According to programme managers, about 11,027,087 uncomplicated suspected malaria cases were recorded in 2018 out of which 5,510,210 were confirmed.
Although four million of those cases were treated challenges including non-adherence to treatment, abuse of insecticide treated nets and long-lasting insecticidal nets, low preventive treatment uptake and dwindling donor resources, were found to be hurdles to tackling the disease.
We therefore call on stakeholders in the health sector not to rest on their oars but scale up their efforts to finish the race and rid the country of the deadly disease.
With the disease topping the list of Out Patient Department (OPD) cases, the citizenry should also be concerned and stop practices that lead to the breeding of mosquitoes as well as observe preventive measures including use of mosquito nets.
We are hopeful that the introduction of the new malaria vaccine (MosquirixTM) this month, would significantly improve strides made in controlling malaria in the country as the NMCP together with other stakeholders strategise to increase uptake of malaria control interventions at all levels.