A Gold Standard for IRS

The VOICES website features a success story on corporate responsibility and contribution to malaria control in Ghana – the efforts by AngloGold Ashanti to organize state of the art indoor residual spraying in the district of Ghana where they have their mining operations.  The case study showed that from the start in early 2005 until near the end of 2006, hospital cases of malaria in the district droped by 50%.  Recent updates show continued progress as seen in the attached chart.

obuasi-malaria-control-program.jpgThe IRS program in Obuasi district started its fifth round of bi-annual spraying in March 2008. Since the start of the program, major drops in clinic attendance for malaria have been seen. Some parasitological studies were done at baseline and once since the start, and showed a similar trend, but these surveys need to be done more regularly to provide definitive proof of the intervention’s effectiveness.

A recent report to Ghana’s National Malaria Coordinating Committee on the project showed 1) positive community acceptance, 2) wide use of a variety of education and information channels, 3) the addition of larviciding, and 4) the functioning of a Malaria Control Center that monitors activities, provides training and receives visitors from partners around the region. The project has created 128 jobs in the community. Other mining companies in the country are apparently considering a similar venture into corporate responsibility.

The Obuasi model is expensive relative to what typical government programs can afford, in part because ecological conditions require bi-annual spraying. The Malaria Center is an additional cost, but a valuable contribution to the national malaria control effort. The US President’s Malaria Initiative is in the process of building on the Obuasi experience and expanding IRS into five districts further north where once a year spraying will be appropriate and thereby test the feasibility of wider IRS use as part of the Ghana National Malaria Control Program.

Ghana had applied to the Global Fund for IRS activities in Round 7, but was unsuccessful. If IRS is going to be rolled out fully in the ecologically appropriate districts (at least 50), the levels of funding support possible from GFATM are needed. Hopefully partners will rally to ensure that Ghana is successful in its malaria proposal for Round 8.

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