Agro and industrial chemicals causing mosquito resistance – Prof Essuman
The Dean of the School of Physical Sciences at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Professor David Kofi Essuman, says the inappropriate use and disposal of industrial and agricultural chemicals have become the major cause of mosquito resistance in the country.
“Our improper management of the environment is helping mosquitoes to build resistance,” Prof Essuman, who was addressing a seminar at Cape Coast said.
However, he added, keeping the environment clean could save people from malaria.
He said mosquitoes should not be tolerated because they could also cause diseases like Zika and elephantiasis.
The seminar was organised by the University of Cape Coast’s Department of Entomology and Wildlife in collaboration with the University’s branch of the Ghana Science Association (GSA) to commemorate this year’s World Malaria Day. It was on the theme: “End Malaria for Good”.
Prof Essuman stated that all kinds of pesticides, including DDT, a banned chemical, was still being used on many farms and industries with the residue being washed into lagoons, ponds, rivers and refuse dumps, which were the breeding grounds for the larvae of the anopheles mosquito.
He said despite a number of measures, including the provision of Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs), intensive public education and the spraying of homes to check the spread of malaria, it still remains a major health problem because there was no environmental management component in the malaria control programmes.
He called for the inclusion of Environmental Studies in the educational curricular at all levels.
Prof Essuman also asked that environmental health officers be given the right roles and provided with the needed support to enable them to work effectively and encourage preventive health care instead of curative care.
Dr James Prah, a Senior Medical Officer at the UCC Hospital, said there had been a reduction in both cases of malaria and malaria-related deaths at the hospital over the past two years. A total of 14,487 malaria cases were recorded at the facility in 2014, but reduced by 15.8 per cent to 13,511 in 2015.
Additionally, in the past two years, malaria had moved from the first to the third disease reported at the Hospital.
He attributed the reduction in cases to the effective use of anti-malaria drugs, the Ministry of Health’s campaign of free distribution of treated nets, indoor residual spraying and the policy to test suspected cases of malaria before treatment.
Dr Prah, however, expressed concern about the low usage of treated nets among families, emphasising that the nets must be used properly to make them effective.
Professor Samuel Yeboah Mensah, the Provost of the College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences of the UCC, said the time had come for Ghana to start researching for a vaccine against Malaria.
He noted that some countries had been able to eradicate it for good and Ghana could also do the same if people changed their attitude by taking preventive measures instead of curative measures.