Ghana records 89% drop in malaria-related deaths in eight years
Deaths fell from 1,264 to 308 between 2012 and 2020 and under-five mortality from the disease also reduced from 0.6 to 0.12.
Dr Keziah Malm, Programme Manager, National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), which targets a 90 per cent mortality drop by 2025, noted that while malaria-related admissions fell from 420,000 to 308,887, it failed to reflect progress in the reduction of malaria cases.
She was speaking during a virtual symposium held by the University for Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) to mark World Malaria Day.
Dr Malm said the country was still at risk and that the disease claimed the highest national health insurance expenditure and had a significant effect on economic growth.
“There had been no improvements in malaria cases. So, we are on track with respect to mortality. However, we are not on track with morbidity,” Dr Malm said.
She said dwindling donor funds and misconstrued public perception of the severity of the disease were affecting the promotion of interventions.
The Programme Manager said the use of insecticide-treated nets remained low despite access improvements and said fear of the coronavirus had kept people from health facilities.
She said covid affected government support for the Malaria Strategic Plan 2021-2025, targeted at reducing malaria mortality by 90 percent and case incidence by 50 percent.
Dr Malm said impactful interventions would be scaled up and resource mobilization strategies revised, adding that the private sector would be engaged to support the malaria fight.
“We have interventions which are proven to work even but are not being implemented at optimum levels due to inadequate resources.”
“Ghana is on track: it is possible to make an impact and move the country into elimination. We have to put our hands-on deck, both public and private because it affects us all,” she stated.
This year’s celebration is on the theme “Zero Malaria – Draw the Line Against Malaria”.
A “Draw the line” movement and a “Zero Malaria Starts With Me” campaign were launched to help encourage the youth to engage their leaders to act towards malaria elimination.
Professor Evelyn Korkor Ansah, Director of the UHAS Centre for Malaria Research, said health-training institutions played key roles in the fight, which included quality training and research.
She said UHAS, in collaboration with the NMCP, provided pre-service malaria seminars for final year students.
Professor Ansah said the University’s efforts at research and innovation in malaria covered clinical trials of control and elimination methods and the evaluation of new tools and strategies.
He said it was “important for the government to provide funding for this very critical role of academia.”
Professor John Owusu Gyapong, Vice-Chancellor of the University, launched the maiden edition of “UHAS Malaria News” online publication, a project in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service.
He said the publication was aimed at sharing information in its “simplest” forms to all stakeholders, “so they could appreciate what is going on at the lowest levels of our world.”