The First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has emphasized the urgent need to mobilse domestic resources to fight malaria in the country.
“Mobilizing domestic resources has become more urgent now than it was before” she said.
“As I have been informed, we are taking steps, to engage stakeholders to mobilize the needed resources through the Malaria Foundation. So when you hear a knock on your door, please open and contribute your quota”, she pleaded.
Speaking at the commemoration of World Malaria Day at Somanya in the Yilo-Krobo Municipal Assembly on Thursday, Mrs Akufo-Addo said Ghana could only defeat malaria by acting decisively, consistently and relentlessly in a coordinated and efficient manner.
She urged Ghanaians to prioritize the available resources and ensure its judicious use, to help Ghana to achieve the malaria goal set by the nation.
“We cannot afford to be complacent, because malaria is not complacent. It attacks and attacks. The only way we can defeat it, is to act...It is possible to achieve zero malaria” she said optimistically.
The theme for the Day was ‘‘Zero Malaria Starts with Me”, and it is marked annually, all over the world, providing a common platform to showcase the successes in malaria control, whilst advocating for a unified efforts to address the challenges.
According the First Lady, globally, more countries, were moving towards zero indigenous malaria cases.
She said in 2017, more countries reported fewer than 10, 000 cases, as compared to 2016 and 2010.
The number of countries with less than 100 indigenous cases, which was a strong indicator that elimination was within reach, increased from 15 countries in 2010 to 24 countries in 2016 and 26 countries in 2017.
“We also can do it, if we all work together and follow guidelines establish by the WHO and our national strategy”, Mrs Akufo-Addo said.
The First Lady said Ghana needed to acknowledge the challenges in malaria eradication to be able to deal with its burden.
“We do know that some factors contributing to our stagnation today, are out of our control, but there are a lot more factors that are within our control. We can start from there and progress towards zero malaria cases in Ghana” she noted.
She mentioned one of the greatest threat to the fight against malaria as inaction and complacency, saying the tendency, “to celebrate our successes and then go into inertia is unacceptable”.
She said another significant challenge was the dwindling and insufficient domestic and international funding, resulting in gaps in the implementation of interventions at all levels.
She emphasized that the theme: ‘’Zero Malaria starts with Me’’ was a call to action and it required “all of us to take advantage of the existing interventions for control of malaria.
Mrs Akufo-Addo said her endorsement of the Goodlife health messages, including the one urging families to sleep under Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs), on radio and television, re-affirmed her commitment to use advocacy, to ensure that good health practices were encouraged among Ghanaians.
Ms Janean Davis, USAID Ghana Health Team Leader, said the U.S. government’s President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), had partnered Ghana to fight malaria since 2008, funding core malaria interventions and providing valuable technical and operational assistance to reinforce and amplify Ghana’s efforts to end the disease.
“We know fighting malaria is a smart investment to protect health, create opportunity, and foster growth and security in Ghana and worldwide. And we know fighting malaria makes us more effective and achieve greater impact than any of us could do alone”, she said.
Dr Keziah Malm, Programme Manager, National Malaria Control Programme, gave the assurance that government through the Programme had intensified actions in recent years to bring malaria under control, and that the country was currently implementing major interventions, which were scientifically known to be effective against malaria.
These included the introduction of the Multiple Prevention Methods, and the Case Management, focusing primarily on the Test, Treat and Track principle at all levels, which were supported with advocacy, communication and social mobilisation towards behavioural change and robust research, surveillance, monitoring and evaluation.
Dr Malm revealed that from 2012 to 2018, malaria deaths had decreased drastically by 85 per cent across all age groups, with deaths associated with malaria dropping from 2,799 cases in 2012 to 428 in 2018.
She, however, called for a renewed focus of all stakeholders to help enhance the prevention of malaria, as well as closing the gap and zeroing on the disease.