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    Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Residents are urged to reduce standing water around the home in a variety of ways.


    The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.This can be accomplished using personal protecting  while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Treated bed nets should be used sleeping. Mosquito repellent should be used when outdoor.


    Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of getting malaria. Pregnant women are particularly at risk of malaria. Children under 5 years are at high risk of malaria.


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Targeting malaria in the rainy season

While everyone is extolling the effectiveness of insecticide treated nets, indoor residual spraying and larviciding, it is worth remembering one other significant intervention to save children from malaria in what is known as seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC).

Giving effective antimalarial medicines at full treatment doses at appropriate intervals during this period has been shown to prevent illness and death from malaria in children.

On the basis of this evidence, WHO has recommended SMC as an additional intervention against plasmodium falciparum malaria, noting that across the Sahel sub-region, most childhood mortality and morbidity from malaria occurs during the rainy season, which is generally short.

“With the changing epidemiology of malaria, there has been a progressive shift from a 'one size fits all' approach to targeting malaria control strategies to specific populations and locations for maximal effectiveness.”

“This intervention has been shown to be cost-effective, safe and feasible for preventing malaria among children under-five in areas wi th high seasonal malaria transmission,” says the WHO.

SMC is defined as “the intermittent administration of full treatment courses of an antimalarial medicine during the malaria season to prevent malarial illness with the objective of maintaining therapeutic antimalarial drug concentrations in the blood throughout the period of greatest malarial risk.”

In Ghana preparatory activities by the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) in partnership with the WHO for the SMC intervention started in 2014 but some technical and logistical constraints did not permit the actual dosing of eligible children.

According to Mr. James Frimpong of the NMCP, activities resumed in June 2015 in preparation for dosing during the rainy season. Among the preparatory activities were stakeholder sensitisation, social mobilisation, health workers and volunteers training and deployment of logistics.

The intervention was proposed to be implemented in the Upper West Region based on evidence of the region having the highest malar ia parasi te prevalence among children under-five. The northern part of the country being contiguous with the Sahel region exhibited similar patterns of malaria transmission, and was also considered.

A combination of sulfadoxinepyrimethamine (SP) plus amodiaquine (AQ), administered orally, is recommended for SMC implementation.

In Ghana the target age group are children aged 3-59 months. SP plus amodiaquine is safe and effective in providing greater protection than other combinations that have been studied.

In Upper West, the first round of SMC dosing happened from 20th-28th July 2015 in all districts within the region.

Mr Frimpong said community health workers and volunteers moved from house to house and identified, registered and dosed 3-59 month-old children after seeking the consent of the parents and caregivers. Information on the child's medication and allergy history is ascertained before the administration of the SMC.

The second round of dosing happened between the 24th and 29th of August and a third round between the 28th of September and 3rd October, 2015. The fourth and last round for 2015 is expected to take place a month after the third dosing.

Mr Frimpong said a projected populat ion of 148,107 were xpected to benefit from the exercise with at least 80% coverage targeted.

He explained that the medicines are administered to each child under direct observation of a community health volunteer or health worker during the dosing rounds in the Upper West Region. Each treatment lasts three days but a period of eight days are dedicated to the dosing round expecting that each eligible child would be reached during the exercise.

“SMC medicines are well tolerated when given in standard doses and have a history of long-time use. The most common adverse events caused by AQ are vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, diarrhoea, itching, headaches and rash.

These generally last for a short time and if they become severe, they can be treated symptomatically. Care givers of children who experience any of the adverse effects should report to the nearest health facility,” he advised.

A report in the Daily Graphic news-paper, quoted the Upper West Regional Malaria Focal Person, Titus Nii Teiko Tagoe, as saying the exercise was carried out over an eight-day period, during which 2,500 trained volunteers, including health workers, administered the antimalarial drug to the children from house to house in all the communities.

“Each child was dosed daily for three days within the eight days of the campaign” he stated.

Mr Tagoe said 111,593 children were dosed, giving coverage of 75.3 percent, as against the target of 80 percent at the end of the first round in July.

Evidence shows that about five million malaria episodes could be prevented each year and 20,000 childhood deaths could be prevented annually if appropriately implemented in the Sahel regions where SMC is suitable. Potentially, 75-85% of episodes of uncomplicated and severe malaria would be prevented.

A lot of progress has been made in tackling malaria. According to the WHO, 13 countries that had malaria in 2000 no longer have any cases of the disease and a further six reported fewer than 10 cases.

It shows the disease can be eliminated from countries and potentially could be eradicated completely.

"Global malaria control is one of the great public health success stories of the past 15 years. It's a sign that our strategies are on target, and that we can beat this ancient killer, which still claims hundreds of thousands of lives, mostly children, each year," said Dr Margaret Chan, the Director General of the WHO.

Anthony Lake the Executive Director of UNICEF summed it up nicely when he said "We know how to prevent and treat malaria. Since we can do it, we must."

By Becky Kwei