Health News of 2014-05-09

Malaria cases reduce in N/R

An anti-malarial indoor residual spraying (IRS) campaign has led to significant reduction in malarial cases in parts of the Northern Region.
Following new initiatives in the treatment of the disease, malaria-related deaths have fallen, as more women now take preventive therapy, in addition to using treated bed nets.
Last year, for instance, the programme achieved over 90 per cent target coverage. About 200,000 structures were sprayed, thus protecting over 500,000 people.
The beneficiaries included almost 12,000 pregnant women and over 100,000 children in the beneficiary districts alone. The districts are Bunkpuru/Yunyoo, West and East Mamprusi and Savelugu/Nanton.
The project, which commenced six years ago, involves the spraying of insecticides to the interior walls and eaves of homes. It is being funded by the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the Africa Indoor Residual Spraying (AIRS) project led by Abt Associates.
The PMI Resident Advisor in Ghana, Dr Philip Ricks, who was speaking at the inauguration of this year’s IRS campaign at Walewale in the West Mamprusi District, said the target for this year was to spray almost 220,000 structures to protect over 550,000 people from malaria attack.
Malaria persists
He acknowledged that despite the achievements made so far, malaria continued to be a major cause of illness and death in Ghana, with children and pregnant women having the highest risks. Every year, about 900,000 malaria cases are reported in children under five, of whom 14,000 die.
“But malaria is preventable through the use of bed nets, indoor spraying, preventive therapy for pregnant women and its prompt diagnoses and proper treatment,” Dr Philip assured.
Malaria Control Programme
The resident advisor further explained that the work of PMI and AIRS also sought to strengthen the ability and capacity of Ghana’s National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) to be able to sustain the initiative.
He said the project also provided employment and training to over 500 members of the beneficiary communities last year, while more than 700 people were expected to be engaged this year.
“We are, especially, proud of the increase in the number of women who are now working as part of the spray campaigns. Last year, women accounted for 24 per cent of seasonal workers, but this number is expected to increase to 33 per cent this year,” Dr Philip said.
Protecting people
The AIRS is protecting millions of people from malaria by leading indoor residual spraying in 13 countries in Africa. In a speech read on his behalf, the Northern Regional Director of Health Services, Dr Akwasi Twumasi, expressed concern about the growing cases of malaria in the area, and commended the efforts of the PMI and AIRS for their intervention.
The northern part of the country has the highest cases of malaria, where children are two to three times more likely to have malaria than children in other parts of the country.
According to the Ghana Health Service, a total, 3.1-3.5 million cases of malaria are reported in public health facilities in the country, accounting for over one-third of both outpatient illnesses and hospital admissions.
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