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US government announces $189m fund for malaria prevention in Ghana, other countries

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The US government is expanding its Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) program to combat malaria in 14 African countries including Ghana.

Malaria has a heavy toll on African economies as the continent loses $12 billion every year to malaria-related illnesses and mortality.

The three-year-$189 million new IRS contract, which is a malaria initiative of the US President is led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented together with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The programme involves the application of safe insecticides to the indoor walls and ceilings of homes or structures in order to interrupt the spread of malaria by killing mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite.

It also consists the provision of technical and financial support to the Ministries of Health and National Malaria Control Programmes in African countries to build country-level capacity for malaria prevention activities.

“The $189 million, three-year contract awarded by USAID to Abt. Associates will cover the implementation of IRS activities in Ghana, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, with the possibility of expansion based on malaria control needs and availability of resources,” the USAID said in a statement August 17, 2011.

Activities include assessing the environment to ensure safe and effective use of insecticides, evaluating mosquito abundance and susceptibility to the insecticides, educating residents about IRS and how they should prepare their house for spraying, training spray teams, procuring insecticide and equipment, and monitoring and evaluating spraying activities, the Agency noted.

Meanwhile, Global malaria deaths have fallen from about 985,000 in 2000 to about 781,000 in 2009 but in spite of this progress, malaria remains one of the major public health problems in sub-Saharan Africa leading the cause of death for children under five, it indicated citing estimates from the World Health Organization.

By Ekow Quandzie

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