Mr Kwame Dzudzorli Gakpey, Communications Officer of the National Malaria Control Programme of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), has warned that the national ban on chloroquine for the treatment of malaria is still in force.
He said the GHS in collaboration with the Food and Drugs Board, the Pharmacy Council and the Police would next year visit pharmacy shops and other drug stores, especially those in rural areas, to arrest dealers still selling the drug.
Mr Gakpey gave the warning when he addressed media practitioners at a day’s workshop organised by the GHS with support from Promoting Malaria Prevention and Treatment (Prompt Ghana) in Sunyani on Monday.
The workshop was aimed at updating the knowledge of over 50 participants drawn from the electronic and print media on effective reportage on malaria.
Mr Gakpey noted with regret that even though the ban on chloroquine came into force in 2004 some pharmacy shops still sold the drug to “ignorant malaria patients”.
“The efficacy and potency of chloroquine is no more since the parasite that causes malaria has developed resistance to the banned medicine”, he added.
Mr Gakpey reminded the public that artesunate amodiaqiune (AA) is the best drug recommended by the GHS for the treatment of malaria and advised patients of the ailment “to take AA in the full course as prescribed by the medical specialist for the rapid treatment of malaria.
Giving a national overview of malaria, the Communication Officer said the disease was the number one cause of morbidity, accounting for about 32.5 per cent of all outpatients’ illnesses, 35.9 per cent of all admissions and 30.3 of all deaths in children aged less than five years.
He said between 3.1 and 3.5 million cases of clinical malaria were reported in public health facilities each year of which 900,000 cases were of children under five years.
Mr Gakpey mentioned fever, headache, chills and vomiting as some of the common symptoms of malaria and advised the general public to access prompt medical attention if they experience such signs.
“The use of lasting insecticide mosquito treated nets is also one of the best methods to control the spread and prevention of malaria”, he advised.
Ms Rosemary Ardayfio, a media consultant for Prompt Ghana and a facilitator at the workshop, noted that malaria places a huge burden on Ghana’s economic development.
She urged the participants especially those from the electronic media to help to change the behaviour of the public on malaria.
Ms Ardayfio said the media plays a critical role in the fight against malaria.