By Samuel Agbewode
The Ghana Health Service (GHS), in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins University, Center for Communication Programmes and advocators for a malaria-free future, have organised an educational programme at the ongoing Volta Trade, Investment and Culture Fair in Ho to educate the public on the need to ensure a malaria-free society.
The health education programme on malarial prevention, which served as a side attraction to the main business aspect of the fair, attracted large numbers of businessmen and women, heads of departments and civic society groups, who appreciated the relevance of malarial control measures being adopted by the health authorities.
Addressing the public, the Country Director of the Johns Hopkins University, Center for Communication Programmes, Mr. Emmanuel Fiagbey, said malaria remained the most effective and persevering killer in many developing countries, particularly, in sub Saharan Africa.
Such a negative development, he said, needed to be tackled with all the seriousness it deserved.
Mr. Fiagbey stressed that malaria continued to pose major health problems and contributed significantly to anaemia in pregnant women and children, adverse birth outcomes such as spontaneous abortion, stillbirths, pre-term labour, and maternal mortality from severe malaria.
He noted that in many developing countries, malaria consumes about 40 percent of total government spending on public health, and accounted for up to half of hospital admissions, as well as out-patient visits, adding that malaria was a major source of school absenteeism, reaching up to 28 percent in many developing nations.
Mr. Fiagbey continued that his outfit was intensifying public education on malaria advocacy in the provision of appropriate information on prevention and treatment, improving capacity of health workers, enabling care givers to give most suitable care, and to ensure availability of all required control interventions.
He disclosed that malaria-related deaths in all endemic countries throughout the world had reduced from the estimated one million to approximately 850,000 per year, and overall malaria cases had dropped from at least 350 million cases per year to 250 million during the same period.
Mr. Fiagbey said health problems affect businesses with their indirect impact on operations, by strengthening or weakening labour productivity, which influences decisions on savings and investment, and affects the productivity of the workforce of an institution, particularly, malaria cases.
The Country Director said the business sector could do a lot in helping to address the problem of malaria, as such, construction and engineering firms could build mosquito proof structures and promote vector control, by filling in breeding sites, and financial institutions like banks to give microcredit assistance to improve the economic activities and capabilities of the poor to purchase preventive and treatment services and tools.
The Ho Municipal Director of Health Service, Dr. Atsu Seake-Kwawu, said the Ministry of Health was doing much in the area of controlling malaria, by educating the public about the breeding sites of malaria carrying mosquitoes, in order to ensure that the people become aware of the dangers involved.
Dr. Seake-Kwawu said malarial control was vital, since it was through that it could be eradicated.
He added that the control and eradication of malaria should be seen as a collective responsibility by all, and urged the public to adhere seriously to health advice from the authorities, in order to reduce, if not to eradicate, malaria completely from society.