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TIPS ON MALARIA

  • HOW CAN MOSQUITOES BE CONTROLLED?

    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.

  • HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM MOSQUITO-BORN DISEASES?

    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.

  • WHO ARE AT RISK?


    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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Turning the tables in Obuasi

The Edwin Cade Memorial Hospital at Obuasi in the Ashanti Region has seen so much success against malaria that it has reduced the purchase of malaria supplies, according to its medical superintendent, Dr. James Kwabena Asenso-Barnie.

Malaria, as far as Obuasi is concerned, has lost its enviable top spot to joint pains, pneumonia, diabetes, insomnia and infections. And the hospital now buys more pain relief medications to address the needs of the community as the hospital hardly records any case of malaria these days.

So encouraging is the situation that Dr Asenso-Barnie joked: “Today, I don't even remember how to treat malaria.”

This is an apt description of what is currently taking place at the facility, popularly referred to as the Edwin Cade hospital. The hospital has a total of 83 beds made up of six in the neonatal unit, 24 in the children's ward, 11 beds in the maternity ward and 21 each in the male and female wards.

“At first the situation was so bad especially at the children's ward, where all beds get occupied and you see children lying on the floor. Today, if we should get a malaria case then it is imported from surrounding areas but not from Obuasi,” he added.

The facility is the main hospital for workers of the AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) mine, which has a workforce of 8,000. Before the introduction of their malaria control programme, the hospital treated thousands of malaria cases among workers of the mine and their dependants.

This was resulting in the loss of man-hours equalling three days per sick worker as they recuperated. Currently, the mine spends less than $1,000 a month on malaria treatment.

Dr Asenso-Barnie attributed the reduction in malaria cases at the hospital largely to the work of AngloGold Ashant i Malaria Control Programme, (AGAMal), explaining that the IRS
programme has impacted positively on the number of malaria cases that the hospital was recording on a monthly basis.

Now, he says employees of the mine and their dependants do not report to the hospital with malaria but rather with other ailments such as diabetes, pneumonia and different kinds of pains due to the nature of their work.

Data available from January 2005 to May 2015 shows that the hospital recorded its peak malaria cases in October 2005 with 7,024 and lowest cases in February, 2015 with 123 cases.

For decades, malaria topped Out-patient Department cases in hospitals across the country. It is still the number one cause of hospi tal at tendance among children under-five and pregnant women throughout the country.

The 2011 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) in children under-five years showed a parasite prevalence rate of 4 per cent in the Greater Accra Region which is the lowest and 51 per cent in the Upper West Region, the highest.

Over the years, a multi-pronged approach has been used in combating the disease in the country. One such approach is the intermittent preventive treatment. This method is used to prevent malaria in pregnant women and their babies.

Another method is the use of long lasting Insecticide treated nets. Studies on treated net usage among children show that it could reduce deaths in children under-five by about 20 per cent.

There is also the seasonal malaria chemoprevention malaria control method. This method moves away f rom the “one-size-fits-all” approach of prevention. With this method, full treatment courses of anti-malarials are administered to children during the malaria season which is from June to September. This method gives a 75 per cent protection against uncomplicated and severe malaria in children under-five.

So far, the most effective approach that seemed to provide a kind of “magic bullet” in malaria protection, prevention and control is the IRS. However, due to the huge cost involved, it is practised only in a small part of the country.

This method which involves the application of a long-lasting insecticide on the walls and other surfaces of houses is currently being undertaken by the AngloGold Ashanti Malaria Control Limited (AGAMal) in 9 districts in the Upper West Region and Obuasi in the Ashanti Region.

The Obuasi programme started as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme in 2006 but was scaled up to other areas of the country to help reduce the overall malaria burden.

Today, the Obuasi IRS programme is touted as a huge success and has helped in the overall reduction in malaria cases in the municipality and beyond.

According to last year's World Malaria Report, released by the WHO, IRS for vector control has been widely adopted. It is applicable in many epidemiological settings, provided that policy and programming decisions take into account the operational and resource feasibility of IRS.

WHO recommends the spraying of at least 90% (ideally 100%) of houses, structures and units in the target area in any round of spraying carried out. In areas where IRS is the main form of vector control, the insecticide used for IRS should be rotated regularly, to preserve the effectiveness of current compounds,” it noted.

The global report said IRS for vector control has been adopted as policy for the control of malaria in 90 count r ies wor ldwide, including 42 of 45 malaria-endemic countries in the WHO African Region. Globally, 124 million people were protected from malaria through the use of indoor residual spraying representing 4% of the global population at risk.

BY REBECCA QUAICOE