Correspondence from Eastern Region
The New Juaben South Municipal Assembly has espoused that it is committed to ensuring that as far as that municipality is concerned, Ghana can and has the ability to achieve zero malaria cases by the year 2030.
In 2019, the Municipality recorded a total of 32,736 confirmed malaria cases which is a reduction from the 2018 figures of a total of 35,902 confirmed cases. The Municipality is confident at seeing a further reduction in the 2020 malaria cases.
Speaking to Ghanaweb in an exclusive interview in Koforidua, Mr. Isaac Apaw-Gyasi, the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for the New Juaben South, said his outfit had made quite appreciable efforts towards eliminating malaria in his jurisdiction.
“Over here in New Juben South, we have had to do a lot of work to make sure we minimise this malaria syndrome. Fortunately for us we were given the opportunity to be part of the Secondary City Project under the able leadership of the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and of course Hon. Hajia Alima Mahama, my Sector Minister.
“We decided to spend over GH¢14.8 million funded by the World Bank to reconstruct what we call the Nsukwao Basin. The Basin is a stretch of a river which starts from Ada Magazine all the way through various communities in Koforidua. From Ada to Zongo through Tanoso to Nsukwao itself and goes on to join Densuano into the main Densu (River). So, it is a huge channel.
“Because it had been there for many years without any attention, there were lots of stagnant streams from all over which created the breeding of the mosquitoes and I can say that this funding that we got from the World Bank has made it possible for us to reconstruct the Nsukwao Basin, and apart from the fact that it is going to check the spread of mosquitoes which are the carriers of malaria parasites, it is also going to check the usual flooding which happens anytime it rains in Koforidua,” the MCE explained.
According to him, one of the main focuses for constructing the Nsukwao Basin, which was commissioned in August 2020 by the President of Ghana, was to ensuring malaria eradication in the New Juaben South Municipality.
“Our fight against malaria is on course. So this is a huge investment. Apart from that we usually do clean-up exercises here in Koforidua led by my good self. I am the type that I take part in projects like that. If you come here you will not be surprised to see me in the gutters to make sure we clean our environments. And this is helping us.
“Apart from that we keep on sensitising market women and households about the need to make sure we don’t have stagnant water across the Municipality. As much as we can de-silt and also make sure that waters that are stagnant in cans, bottles and stuff like that…we advise against them. So I think this line about sensitising people is what we need to continue to push just so when people are well informed it helps the process and helps us to fight against malaria.
“Malaria is one single disease that kills a lot of people. My understanding is that it even kills more people than HIV, so when you have a deadly disease such as malaria, it has to be a collaborative effort. We need to work together as a people so that we can exterminate it. We are fortunate to be here in the Municipality working hard to get malaria down,” Mr. Apaw-Gyasi said.
He averred that foreign countries are able to subdue malaria because they have been able to do research and employed technologies to make the female anopheles mosquitoes impotent in carrying the malaria parasites into humans and urged that Ghana should adopt such a technology.
When Ghanaweb asked how he funds activities against malaria spread, he replied that the Assembly relied on its Internally Generated Fund (IGF) to fund such activities including de-silting of gutters and streams, market and household sensitisation among others.
He said, “Basically, the Assembly relies on its IGF. It is not everything we have to wait for the Common Fund or the District Development Fund (DDF) to fight such a very serious problem. I think that we as a Municipality also have the capacity to generate our own revenue and use it in our interest. So for me, I have no problem putting something aside to fight malaria.”
On her part, the Malaria Focal Person at the New Juaben South Municipal Health Directorate, Akua Durowaa-Adjei, told Ghanaweb that the activities her outfit undertakes to eliminating malaria in the municipality include mosquito Bed nets distribution which she said “is the major activity for now.”
According to her, the Health Directorate distributed insecticide bed nets to basic school pupils in primary Two to primary six as well as to pupils in Junior High school (JHS) One and Two levels.
“We also provide bed nets to first Antenatal Care (ANC) attendants and also to children who come in for Measles two immunisation when they are 18 months.
“We have this three-year bed distribution for every household; We distribute to every household within the district every three years,” the Malaria Focal Person said.
Durowaa-Adjei emphasised that the Health Directorate was keen on ensuring that, especially, private health facilities adhere to the 3Ts policy which enjoins clinicians to Test, Treat and Track every malaria case to avoid situations where they treat every case as malaria when in fact they may not be.
While expressing happiness that test kits are prompt in coming from the medical stores to the health facilities, she however expressed worry that some private health centres in the Municipality had gone back to the normal treatment of every case as malaria “and it does not give us accurate statistics on malaria in the Municipality.”
The Municipal Director of Health Service, Dr. Ekow Kaitoo, in an interview, eulogised the New Juaben South Assembly and the MCE for the spiritedness in supporting health activities.
“When we do any programme they support us. In most cases it's fuel. They pay part of the fuel components for us,” he told Ghanaweb.
Malaria still remains one of the deadly diseases in Ghana and the world as a whole. According to statistics on health-related deaths, malaria is among the first three diseases that claim more lives globally and nationally.
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. With 3% of global malaria cases and deaths, Ghana is among the 15 highest-burden malaria countries in the world.
Even though as at 2020, Ghana has made some progress against the disease, malaria continues to pose as one of the greatest health risks in the country, placing a substantial burden on health workers and dramatically increasing costs on the national health insurance scheme.
According to reports, research into the economic impact of malaria over the next 10 years in Ghana indicates that malaria at current level will cost Ghanaians US$32 billion. Also, it will cause workers one billion missed days of work, cost US$2 billion in health system expenditures, cost US$29 billion in private-sector losses and as well cost US$580 million in reduced household income.
Delivering a speech at the 2018 Malaria Summit in London, the President of the Republic of Ghana, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo assured world leaders at the summit of Ghana‘s commitment to overcoming the fight against malaria by 2030.