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Does Ghana spend $760m yearly or $1.5b quarterly on malaria?

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The fact that Ghana spends lots of money on the treatment and management of malaria is a known fact. But the figures being put out by government officials are not the same, even though they are staggering.

A former Minister of Health, Dr. Sipa Yankey had said sometime in August 2009 that the country spends $760 million annually to treat malaria. When he stated the figure, he expressed regret that despite this huge expenditure, people still died from the disease.

In the 2009 budget an amount of GH¢921 million was allocated to the health sector, out of which nearly 90% is spent on malaria.

A GNA report of April 9, 2010 however has quoted Ms. Sherry Ayitey, the Minister of Science and Environment as saying the country spends $1.5 billion on treating malaria every quarter.

While the figures are inconsistent or there is need for further clarification, it is still confounding for a developing country to spend so much on malaria.

There is need for urgent, focused and precise action to deal with the malaria situation in the country. If ongoing projects have not yielded desired results, it is necessary to have another look at the malaria situation redesign the approach and deal decisively with it, as the savings from malaria treatment can be used more meaningfully elsewhere.

For instance, the Voices for a Malaria-free Future (VfMfF), an advocacy group predicted that in December 2009, more than 10,000 malaria cases were expected to be reported in the country’s health facilities. 60 of these cases, the group said, were expected to result in infant mortality.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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  1. There are many ways to spend money on malaria. Out-of-pocket expenses by the public often take the lion’s share. Then there are government budgets and donor funding. When quoting expenditures it is important to distinguish which of these sources are being discussed.