Malaria Progress and Impact Series launched

The Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Progress and Impact Series Report indicates that within the past 10 years, almost 750,000 (Three quarters of a million) children in 34 African countries avoided malaria-related deaths.

This was due to the use of insecticide treated nets, indoor residual spraying, effective medicines and preventive treatment during pregnancy.

Mr Joseph Yieleh-Chireh, Minister of Health, announced the feat at the launch of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership’s Progress and Impact (P&I) Series Reports in Accra.

A statement issued in Accra and copied to the Ghana News Agency said the launching was organised by Voices for a Malaria-Free Future—an advocacy project of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with support from RBM and the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) of the Ministry of Health.

Mr Yieleh-Chireh said despite these achievements, malaria still carried a significant burden in Ghana adding, “The achievement of our Better Ghana Agenda, which aims at improving the lives and living conditions of our people, hinges on our total commitment and support for all efforts directed at eliminating malaria.”

“The recommendations made in the reports being launched, should be the gold standard for all African countries in our march towards eliminating malaria,” he added.

Mrs Juliana Azumah-Mensah, Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs, in a message on behalf of mothers and children in Ghana, said: “These reports will no doubt offer accurate statistics regarding malaria infections among women and children and help us know where to step up our efforts.”

She called on all who still sold or used Sulphadoxine Pyrimethamin (SP) for treating uncomplicated malaria to stop the practice “as the loss of the efficacy of this medicine to resistance will spell doom for all pregnant women and the babies they carry,” she emphasised.

Anti-Malaria advocates in Ghana celebrated worldwide successes and renewed commitments to the on-going fight against malaria at the launch.

Building on the momentum of World Malaria Day on April 25, the report launch and distribution convened stakeholders at the national level, including the Minister of Health and the Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs, representatives of multilateral organizations, public and private sector partners, and members of the media.

More than 100 participants participated in the launch on the theme “Achieving Progress and Impact in the Fight against Malaria”.

The statement said the six reports launched included; Malaria Funding and resources utilization; Saving lives with malaria control; Mathematical modelling to support malaria control and elimination; World Malaria Day 2010 Africa updates; Focus on Senegal; Business investing in malaria control, and economic returns and a healthy workforce for Africa.

The main recommendations made in the launched series included greater support of strategic national plans, increased resource commitments from donors and endemic country governments, better access to and education about cost-effective prevention interventions and rapid diagnostic tests, stronger enforcement of drug policies, fewer taxes and tariffs on life-saving intervention tools, continued investments in behaviour change communication.

Professor Fred Binka, Dean of School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Legon called on stakeholders to work together to achieve national targets, in line with these recommendations.

He stressed, “With progress in individual countries, we need more sub-regional work among neighbouring countries. Mosquitoes don’t recognize political borders.”

Additional remarks were made by Dr Elias Sory, Director General of Ghana Health Service; Dr Daniel Kertesz, Ghana Country Representative of World Health Organisation; Dr Constance Bart-Plange, Programme Manager of NMCP; and Mr Emmanuel Fiagbey, Ghana Country Director, Johns Hopkins University Centre for Communication Programmes Voices for a Malaria Free Future Project.

Ghana is one of malaria-endemic countries selected by the RBM Partnership to launch the Progress and Impact Series reports, because of her high-level political engagement, effective partnerships, and increased access to interventions.

National leaders in Ghana have expressed their commitment to accelerating all interventions to enable the country join the 11 African countries that have achieved 50 per cent in the universal coverage targets as they work toward the RBM target of near-zero malaria-related deaths by 2015.

Source: GNA

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