Figures from the Ghana Health Service (GHS) indicate that the country has recorded over one million malaria cases with 54 deaths between January and March 2020.
Consequently, the Director General of the GHS, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, has called on the public to take charge of their health and that of their families by observing the precautionary protocols of malaria just as they do for COVID-19.
According to him, Ghana between January and March, 2020, recorded a total of 1,001,070 malaria cases in the country more than half of the 2,346,677 suspected cases tested.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye said out of the figure, 21,201 were children under five years and 28,764 pregnant women.
Furthermore, 42 per cent of the 58,775 admissions due to malaria were among children under five years while malaria deaths between January and March 2020 stand at 54.
He added that 16 deaths occurred among children under five years.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye disclosed these in a statement issued in Accra by the GHS in commemoration of the 2020 World Malaria Day on April 25.
He explained that in other to reduce the number of deaths, it was important people observed the protocols by sleeping under an insecticide treated net and test and confirm the incidence of malaria in their bloodstreams before they take any artemether-lumefantrine (ACT).
Dr Kuma-Aboagye said pregnant women were to take all recommended doses of Sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine (SP) to keep themselves and unborn babies safe from malaria and also comply with malaria treatment as prescribed.
This year’s theme; “Zero Malaria Starts with Me”, is a movement dedicated to driving action and making change, and this starts with each and every one.
The 2020, World Malaria Day highlights, recognizes and revitalizes the involvement of high burden countries in Africa, Ghana inclusive, which collectively account for approximately 70 per cent of the global malaria burden.
World Malaria Day
World Malaria Day (WMD) is commemorated every year on 25th April to recognize global efforts to control malaria.
Globally, 3.3 billion people in 106 countries are at risk of malaria.
Since 2008, this day has been commemorated with emphasis on various themes assigned by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership to End Malaria (RBM) & The World Health Organization (WHO).
With the involvement and commitment of political decision-makers, the private sector, civil society, the academic community and the public, World Malaria Day 2020 rejuvenates malaria control and elimination efforts across the globe, it said.
The statement said the “Zero Malaria Starts with Me” was officially launched in Ghana last year by the First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akuffo Addo.
“In Ghana, we are working to build political will, ensure efficient use of existing resources, increase private sector support and boost media engagement in order to kick start the decade that will end malaria in Africa.”
Ghana, over the years has made considerable gains in the fight against malaria.
Using the targets set in the National Strategic Plan (2014-2020) of reducing morbidity and mortality by 75 per cent by 2020 with 2012 as baseline.
The country by this has made some notable achievements by reducing malaria related deaths at all ages, from 88 per cent of 2,799 in 2012 to 333 by end of 2019.
“In 2012, the country recorded eight malaria deaths every day but this was reduced to one malaria death every day in 2019,” Dr Kuma-Aboagye added in the statement.
The statement said between 2012 and 2019, malaria related admissions (all ages), reduced by 8 per cent, Malaria parasite prevalence rate in children under five years reduced from 21 out of 100 children being positive in 2016 to 14 children out of 100 being positive in 2019 reduced.
This represents a 32 per cent reduction in malaria prevalence between 2016 and 2019.
“Since 2012, the proportion of Out Patients Department (OPD) malaria cases, tested by microscopy has steadily increased to 40 out of 100 suspected cases being tested in 2012, to 94 out of 100 suspected cases being tested in 2019”.
“So almost every suspected case seen at the health facilities are tested to confirm if it is malaria before being treated,” it said.
Effective life-saving tools
The statement said millions of Ghanaians have been reached with effective life-saving tools such as long lasting insecticide treated nets, indoor residual spraying and preventive anti-malarials.
It said working together with funding and implementing partners, civil society organizations and communities has led to increased access to malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
The statement noted that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is possible to lose sight of the deadly malaria disease and the gains made over the years both individually and collectively to protect ourselves and risk reversing hard-won progress in the malaria fight.
However, it is equally important to sustain the efforts made by the Ghana Health Service and its partners to advance efforts made to prevent, detect and treat malaria.
Over the past few months, the world has been hit with the COVID-19 pandemic, including Ghana which reported its first two cases on 12 March 2020.
Since then, the country has recorded 1,550 cases, with over 155 recoveries and 11 deaths as at the last update.
This is an infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered SAR-COV-2.
Until its outbreak in Wuhan China in December 2019, this strain of the virus was unknown.
The COVID-19 pandemic as reported by WHO, is testing the resilience of our health systems; adding to the heavy toll malaria exacts on the population. Additionally, COVID-19 underscores the critical importance of having strong surveillance and health care systems to effectively address existing infectious disease like malaria.