A press release issued by MTN and copied to ghanabusinessnews.com says MTN is one of the first private sector representatives to contribute to the Global Fund’s malaria projects.
According to the release, MTN as part of its sponsorship of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, MTN joined forces with United Against Malaria (UAM) – a coalition of football stars, corporations and governments – in a bid to leverage the power of football to combat malaria.
MTN was also the exclusive communications partner of the UAM expedition led by renowned explorer Kingsley Holgate that traversed nine countries in Southern and East Africa to distribute anti-malaria paraphernalia to impoverished communities and raising awareness about the disease.
In Ghana, the company used the MTN 21 Days of Y’ello Care as the main platform to drive the United Against Malaria campaign. MTN employee volunteers together with some recognized partners executed a number of activities across the country aimed at driving the UAM campaign. During the period, MTN Ghana Foundation distributed free insecticide treated mosquito nets and organized free malaria tests and treatment. In addition, the Foundation, in partnership with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation organized an MTN “What Do You Know About Malaria” radio and television quiz competition, the release added.
Malaria is a major public health challenge to most African countries.
African economies spend as much as $12 billion every year fighting malaria and that is 1.3% of GDP annually in lost productivity.
A former Minister of Health, Dr. Sipa Yankey had said sometime in August 2009 that Ghana 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 in Ghana.
Available statistics show that some 90% of malaria deaths in the world occur in Africa.
Malaria is said to be endemic and a major public health problem in areas of Asia, Africa, and Central and South America.
Malaria occurs in about 100 countries; approximately 40% of the world population is at risk of contracting malaria.
And according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Ghana had an estimated 7.2 million cases of malaria in 2006, out of which 3.9 million occurred among children less than five years.
Malaria has become the leading cause of morbidity and death in Ghana accounting for more than 19% of all mortality cases with 22% of under five mortality, according to the 2007 World Health Report.
An estimated 3.5 million Ghanaians would visit health facilities due to malaria infections each year and about 20,000 children would have died from the disease.
A Ghana Health Service report published in 2006 says malaria has been estimated to constitute 10% of the overall disease burden in sub-Saharan Africa, being the leading cause of mortality in children aged under five years and accounting for about 40% of public health expenditure. It is also estimated to account for 20-50% of inpatient admissions, and up to 50% of outpatient visits in areas with high malaria transmission.
Malaria is transmitted to humans when an infected Anopheles mosquito bites a person and injects the malaria parasites (sporozoites) into the blood. Sporozoites travel through the bloodstream to the liver, mature, and eventually infect the human red blood cells.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi