Ghana – opportunity for advocacy at RBM impact series launch

by Emmanuel Fiagbey, Ghana Country Director, Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs, Voices for a Malaria Free Future Project

Malaria advocates in Ghana celebrated worldwide successes and renewed commitments to the fight against malaria at the launch of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership’s Progress and Impact (P&I) Series reports, an event organized by Voices for a Malaria-Free Future with support from RBM and the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) of the Ghana Health Service.

The report launch and distribution convened stakeholders including the Minister of Health and the Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs, representatives of multilateral organizations, public and private sector partners, and members of the media. More than 100 participants took part in the May 27 event themed “Achieving Progress and Impact in the Fight against Malaria.”

The six reports launched included 1) Malaria Funding and resources utilization; 2) Saving lives with malaria control; 3) Mathematical modelling to support malaria control and elimination; 4) World Malaria Day 2010 Africa updates; 5) Focus on Senegal; and 6) Business investing in malaria control. Economic returns and a healthy workforce for Africa.

moh-launches-rbm-impact-progress-reports-sm.jpgIn officially launching the reports in Ghana, Hon. Minister of Health Mr. Joseph Yieleh Chireh (MP) (see at left) noted that in the past ten years, almost three quarters of a million children in 34 African countries avoided malaria-related deaths through the use of insecticide treated nets, indoor residual spraying, effective medicines and preventive treatment during pregnancy, citing the reports.

But malaria still carries a significant burden in Ghana, he added. “The achievement of our Better Ghana Agenda, which aims at improving the lives and living conditions of our people, hinges on our total commitment and support for all efforts directed at eliminating malaria,” he said. “The recommendations made in the reports being launched today, I must emphasize, should be the gold standard for all our countries in our march towards eliminating malaria.”

In a message on behalf of the mothers and children of Ghana, the Hon. Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs Mrs. Juliana Azumah-Mensah (MP) said, “These reports will no doubt offer accurate statistics regarding malaria infections among women and children and help us know where to step up our efforts.”  She called on all who still sell or use Sulphadoxine Pyrimethamin (SP) for treating uncomplicated malaria to stop the practice, “as the loss of the efficacy of this medicine to resistance will spell doom for all pregnant women and the babies they carry,” she emphasised.

The occasion offered an opportunity to advocate in Ghana for …

  • increased resource commitments from donors and endemic country governments
  • better access to and education about cost-effective prevention interventions and rapid .diagnostic tests
  • stronger enforcement of drug policies
  • fewer taxes and tariffs on life-saving intervention tools
  • continued investments in behaviour change communication

Prof.  Fred Binka, Dean of the School of Public Health of the University of Ghana, Legon who chaired the event called on stakeholders to work together to achieve national targets, in line with these recommendations. He stressed, “With progress in individual countries, we need more sub-regional work among neighbouring countries. Mosquitoes don’t recognize political borders.”

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