Healthy workers can be malaria champions in their communities

Emmanuel Fiagby of the VOICES for a Malaria-Free Future in Ghana shares a recent workshop of the Ghana Revenue Authority at Kpetoe, Volta Region, Ghana. Below are his experiences.

slide1.JPGThe Ghana Revenue Authority has made a giant stride in the implementation of its Employee Wellbeing Program (EWP) by initiating a program which will result in the development and implementation of a Malaria Control Strategy and Program of Action for the Authority. A total of 45 officials of the GRA mostly EWP Focal Persons participated in the program.

Launching the program at the Customs Excise and Preventive Services (CEPS) Academy here, the Commissioner General of the  GRA Mr. George Blankson stated that the GRA has since its establishment shown tremendous commitment towards the welfare, health and wellbeing of its staff who are its most valued asset and therefore finds the theme for its Malaria Control strategy development exercise, “Turning Revenue Makers in to Malaria champions; a true demonstration of corporate social responsibility,” an apt reflection of what the GRA stands for.

Mr. Blankson emphasized that, the aim of the GRA in setting up its EWP of which malaria is becoming a key component is to set the pace as a leading healthy workplace in Ghana where staff and management work together to protect and promote the health, safety and wellbeing of its over 7,000 staff and almost 30,000 community members on a sustainable basis. “Today we stand at the threshold of expanding the frontiers of the Employee Wellbeing Program (EWP) to encompass malaria control programs for our staff and the wider community which GRA serves. I am extremely certain that this effort will lead to the total obliteration of the 25% absenteeism of our workforce attributed to malaria and the random deaths this disease wrecks on our institution,” the Commissioner General reiterated. He called on all officers selected to lead the malaria program and noted that by becoming champions for malaria control, they will be “contributing to sustaining a stronger workforce, a stronger community and therefore a more productive and taxpaying community.”

slide1.JPGIn her key note remarks, Dr. Kezia Malm, Deputy Manager of the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) stressed that Ghana has made tremendous progress in the fight against malaria and it’s only through the collaborative efforts of parastatal institutions such as the GRA and others that the country would be able to sustain the gains. “Our journey to eliminating malaria can only end successfully if the support of every sector of our development effort – the public sector, private sector, NGOs, and the donor community is sustained,” she concluded.

The two day GRA Malaria Control Strategy development and action plan development program was organized by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs Voices Project in collaboration with the Ghana Revenue Authority and the National Malaria Control Program. In setting the stage for the program, the Country Director of the Voices for a Malaria-free Future Project, Mr. Emmanuel Fiagbey pointed out that the GRA, a non-health institution becoming a champion for malaria control should be an effort worth emulating by other powerful parastatal institutions. “That the ‘Revenue Makers’ our tax officials have become malaria advocates and mentors for their colleagues should not only result in preserving the health of the GRA Workforce against malaria, it must also lead to speedy action on malaria commodities and their documentation that come to the tables of the tax officials in the course of their work,” Mr. Fiagbey emphasized.

slide1.JPGThe Ghana Revenue Authority is a major parastatal institution in Ghana made up of the Customs Excise and Preventive Service, the Internal Revenue Service and the VAT Service. Fifteen senior officers of the Authority including Mr. K. E. Enyimayew the Deputy Commissioner HR, Deputy Directors of the three arms of the Authority, Service Commanders/Commissioners and the Director of the CEPS Academy also participated in the opening activities of the program.

Malaria is often a major cause of absenteeism – either for the sick worker or the worker who has to stay home with a sick child or relative.  The GRA sets a great example how malaria training for members of the workforce can improve occupational, family and community health.

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