President George W Bush has announced Ghana as one of the 15 countries to participate in his 1.2 billion-dollar malaria initiative.
"We're going to continue to expand the malaria initiative to reach other countries across Africa as quickly as possible. Earlier this year, Laura announced that four nations will join the initiative in '07: Senegal, Malawi, Rwanda, and Mozambique. And today, I am going to announce eight more countries will join in '08: Ghana, Madagascar, Mali, Zambia, Kenya, Liberia, Ethiopia, and Benin", he said.
The President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) is to reduce by 50 per cent the number of deaths caused by malaria in African countries. There are five West African countries - Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Benin and Senegal - among those selected to benefit in 2008.
The PMI would significantly increase resources to the focus countries providing the most advanced and effective prevention and treatment interventions available.
Ms Sue K. Brown, Charge d'Affaires of the U.S Mission to Ghana, who briefed the media in Ghana on a White House Summit on malaria, said the initiative called for an ambitious public-private effort to strengthen and expand malaria control efforts in Africa.
The initiative ensures the provision of new effective drugs to rural clinics, at least two doses of medicine for pregnant women to protect themselves and their unborn babies.
It also provides distribution of long lasting insecticide-treated bed nets that prevent mosquito bites and the availability of insecticides to spray on the inside walls of homes to kill mosquitoes that transmit the disease.
She said the initiative since 2005 had reached and saved more than six million people in Angola, Tanzania and Uganda and a series of proven programmes would be launched in other countries to prevent millions of deaths.
In addition, Ms Brown said, in Ghana malaria was one of the major causes of poverty accounting for over 44 per cent of outpatient visits and an estimated 22 per cent of mortality of children below age five. "More than three million suspected malaria cases were seen in government health facilities and with more than 110,000 going on admission", she said.
She noted that Ghana was committed to the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) initiative, which was launched in 1998. The Ghana RBM partnership emphasizes strengthening health services in general and making effective prevention and treatment strategies more widely available. Major Courage Quashigah (Rtd) Minister of Health said Ghana was likely to spend more than 500 million dollars a year in the prevention of malaria.
He noted that malaria was an enemy to human health and impeded economic development considering the huge amount of money spent annually on it.
"To combat an enemy, their mode of communication should be done away with and their source of life be cut" he said. Maj. Quashigah urged the media to focus more on reporting on environmental and health related topics rather than politics.