Deaths-to-malaria decreasing, but hospitals still record high cases – Dr Malm

Although the number of deaths due to malaria continue to decrease across the country, there are still very high cases of the disease at the health facilities, the Programme Manager of the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), Dr Keziah Malm, has said.

Dr  Malm speaking after a health walk in Accra on Saturday organised by the NMCP in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to commemorate World  Malaria  Day.

This year’s event is on the theme “Advance equity, build resilience, end malaria.”

The walk began from the premises of Korle-Bu Public Health through James Town, Palladium, and Tema Station and ended at the premises of the NMCP.

The participants wielded placards with inscriptions such as “Fever is a sign of other diseases, test before you treat malaria,”  “Yes let’s do this together. It is possible to end malaria.” “SP is given to pregnant women under the supervision of a health worker to prevent mother and unborn baby from getting malaria.”

Other inscriptions on the placards include “Many lives can be saved  by preventing malaria and treating it early, Visit the nearest health facility  when unwell,” and “Malaria is preventable, make sure you and your family sleep under insecticide treated nets”  to sensitise  citizens on  malaria.

The essence of the walk is to create awareness and get a platform to send the message out that zero malaria starts with “you and I.”

According to Dr Malm, existing interventions on the prevention of malaria were effective thereby encouraging people to take up those interventions.

She said use of insecticide treated nets helped in pre-elimination to enable the country to gradually move towards elimination.

“We want to make sure that by 2025, we are near zero deaths when it comes to malaria,” she said.

She indicated that the NMCP is working towards increasing its resources domestically, explaining that “we want to increase the money we get in the country for us to be able to work with so that we are not too dependent on donors.”

 Dr Malm said last year the country recorded about 275 malaria deaths in the health facilities and about 5.7 million confirmed malaria cases at the outpatient departments, while about 390,000 admissions were recorded.

She mentioned that there had been progress with regard to malaria-related deaths because in 2017 the death rate was around 600, but in the years before the death rate, she said was around 14, 000 and 10,000.

 “We have made good progress as we are now around 275, but it is not good enough because we do not want to see 5.7 million people not being able to go to school or work because they have malaria, so there is still more work to be done.”

 The National Malaria Advocate, Oheneyere Gifty Anti, said malaria was killing both children and adults, while employees and employers were losing revenue due to the disease.

 She reiterated that not every fever was malaria hence the need to test before taking drugs for malaria.

The National Malaria Advocate urged malaria patients to complete dose for the malaria drug to ensure full recovery, once they tested positive and were put on the treatment regime.

BY JEMIMA ESINAM KUATSINU

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