Ghana will intensify interventions that were successful in the past to achieve the target of malaria elimination, a health official has said.
Mildred Komey, the focal person for Malaria in Pregnancy at Ghana’s National Malaria Elimination Program (NMEP), told Xinhua in a recent interview that the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and its stakeholders decided to transition Ghana from malaria control to elimination based on the successes chalked under the Malaria Control Programme and emerging dynamics.
“We have done well in terms of controlling malaria, especially when it comes to the number of deaths. In 2019, we recorded 333 malarial-related deaths, but this number has reduced significantly, and in 2022, we recorded 151 deaths from malaria, which is a big reduction,” the official said.
Komey disclosed that the case fatality rate among children under five years of age also reduced from 0.07 percent in 2019 to 0.03 percent in 2022. She also revealed that the disease prevalence rate had reduced significantly in some districts.
Despite these successes, the official said the disease remains endemic in the West African country due to inherent challenges in the system including inadequate financing, inadequate human resource capacity, and non-adherence to treatment protocol by some patients.
She said the situation called for a new national strategy, which has already been in the pipeline.
Providing a sneak peek into the new strategy, Komey said one of the actions proposed under the new program is chemo-preventive interventions to introduce the intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in school children.
She said mass drug administration against the disease in highly endemic areas, post-discharge chemo-prevention to prevent a recurrence, and providing single-dose primaquine to block malaria transmission are also part of the proposed interventions under the NMEP.
“The GHS has introduced revised case management guidelines approving the use of herbal antimalaria medicines containing certain required active ingredients and approved by the Food and Drugs Authority for treatments under the program,” said the official.
She said surveillance would also be enhanced in collaboration with pharmacies and over-the-counter chemical shops “because many people go to these places for malaria treatment.”
With the advent of vaccines, Komey stressed, “immunization will continue to play a critical role in Ghana’s strategy in preventing malaria among children under five years.”
“The NMEP will highlight the need to commit more resources and more efforts into eliminating malaria. We should get to the point of zero malaria cases and zero malaria deaths in Ghana,” Komey added.