New Malaria control prog makes major impact

Fred Tetteh Alarti-Amoako | 28 Jul 2008
The Statesman
Records available to The Statesman show that the introduction of the Indoor Residual Spraying, a new anti-malaria programme, in some selected vulnerable communities in the Northern Region, has saved more than 536,000 people, including thousands of children and pregnant women who are susceptible to malaria, the leading cause of death among children under age five in third world countries.

By the end of the two month exercise, 63,000 houses and 215,000 rooms were sprayed between May and July this year in five selected districts in the Northern Region namely, Savelugu-Nanton, Tolon-Kumbungu, West Mamprusi, Karaga and Gushegu, which were chosen to undergo the first phase of the exercise.

The three-year programme being funded by the US President's Malaria Initiative in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service and other implementing partners, seeks to provide support for the national malaria strategy totalling approximately $53 million in value.

The United States Agency for International Development Ghana Director, Robert Hellyer, disclosed this at the inauguration of an 86 capacity bed state-of-the-art District Hospital at Gushegu in the Northern Region.

He said the initial five districts selected for the programme were chosen based on their high malaria burden, vulnerable populations, pronounced rainy-season transmission peak, among others.

Mr Hellyer mentioned that the programme also promotes insecticide-treated bed nets, improved case management of malaria and the prevention of malaria in pregnancy.

Health Minister Major Courage Quashigah underscored the economic havoc malaria continues to poise to Ghana's economy, saying government estimated the annual economic cost as malaria to be about $772.4 million, which he said is about 90 percent of the 2008 health sector budget and the cost of 30,000 4x4 pickups.

He expressed the hope that the collaborative efforts of all the stakeholders will help scale up the programme to other parts of the country.

The Indoor Residual Spraying is the application of small amounts of insecticide to the interior walls of houses to kill and repel malaria-transmitting mosquitoes, where the insecticide remains active for up to three to six months.

Health experts have rated the IRS as a highly effective, proven malaria prevention method and have been approved by the World Health Organization for malaria control.

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