The US President George Bush, has disclosed that in recognition of malaria being one of the major causes of poverty in Africa, including Ghana, where it also accounts for over 44% of out-patient visits and an estimated 22% of mortality for children under age 5 it is taking a special initiative to help address the problem. General statistics show that in 2005 more than 3 million suspected cases of malaria were seen in government health facilities and over 110,000 patients were admitted to stay in hospitals due to malaria.
The US president made this revelation when he announced Ghana as a new focus country for the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) with a historic $ 1.2 billion, five-year initiative to control malaria in 15 of the highest burdened countries in Africa in Accra last Friday.
According to President Bush, about a million Africans died of malaria with the vast majority being children under five.
In a speech read on his behalf by Her Excellency Sue K. Brown, Charge d' Affaires of the US Mission in Ghana, he noted that the significant increase of resources to the focus countries, is aimed at providing the most advanced and effective prevention and treatment interventions available.
He said this is a tremendous opportunity to scale up proven interventions to reduce the burden of malaria in Ghana, since it is the leading cause of death and illness among children in many African countries.
He said the elimination of the illness would improve life, reduce costs related to illness, boost productivity and most importantly save countless lives.
He noted that the country was chosen by a US government inter agency group based on the burden of malaria, sound malaria control practices and interest on the part of the host country, adding that assessment missions to identify possible programme element are already underway.
He said since 2005, the initiative has already reached and saved more than six million people in Angola, Tanzania and Uganda.
He said the Ghana roll back malaria partnership emphasizes the strengthening of health service in general and making effective prevention and treatment strategies more widely available.
Major Courage Quashigah Minister for Health noted that the rate of malaria in the country is very alarming and therefore efforts must be joined to eradicate the illness and added that over 12 billion dollars is spent on malaria treatment in Africa.
He said malaria is curable and preventable disease with the key aspect of this battle is to resolve, individual responsibility and leadership.
He said to defeat malaria as enemy, the country must implore so many strategies, adding that the Health Ministry is liaising with other ministries, including the Local Government Ministry to strengthen the fight.
Some of the other countries benefiting from the US move are Benin Madagascar, Mail, Zambia, Kenya Liberia and Ethiopia.