Yesterday, April 25, was World Malaria Day with the theme “Zero malaria starts with me”. The United States, through the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) joined forces with the National Malaria Control Program and other malaria partners to celebrate the encouraging results achieved in the last 10years.
From 2011 to 2016, malaria prevalence in children under five decreased nationally by 8% and from 2014, malaria deaths nationwide have decreased by 73%. However, as we celebrate this life savings impact, we must step up the efforts to fight the disease to ensure that we reach the noble and ambitious objective of “Zero malaria deaths”.
PMI has partnered with Ghana to fight malaria since 2008, funding core malaria interventions and providing valuable technical and operational assistance to reinforce and amplify Ghana’s efforts to end this deadly, yet entirely preventable disease. In FY 2018, PMI invested $28 million in Ghana and has provided over $277 million in support to Ghana since it began.
“We know fighting malaria is a smart investment to protect health, create opportunity, and foster growth and security in Ghana and worldwide. And we know fighting malaria together makes us more effective and achieves greater impact than any of us could alone.” said Ms. Janean Davis, USAID Ghana Health Team Lead.
With the health ministry and national malaria program in the leadㅡand in close collaboration with local communities, donors, multilateral organizations, faith groups, the private sector, research and academic institutions, and many othersㅡPMI has supported significant improvements in the coverage and impact of proven, cost-effective malaria interventions in Ghana.
“PMI shows what is possible when we work together, empowering countries to lead the way to zero malaria,” said U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator Dr. Kenneth Staley. “Looking forward, we are excited to expand coverage of lifesaving interventions, introduce innovations, and revolutionize our data environment to secure our shared vision for a world without malaria.”
On her part,Ghana’s First Lady, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo charged stakeholders to prioritize and ensure judicious use of available resources in the fight towards zero incidences of malaria in Ghana.
According to her, “malaria is a preventable disease and we have evidence of proven tools that can change our story. What is needed is renewed and vigorous commitment to the fight against it”
The First Lady made this known at the launch of the 2019 World Malaria Day in Somanya – Akutunya Lorry station in the Yilo Krobo Municipal Assembly.
“In July 2018, at the African Union Summit, President Akufo-Addo pledged his commitment to champion innovation, to reduce the malaria burden. Since that pledge, I am aware the Ministry of Health together with our partners, have intensified efforts in the fight against malaria. The country has scaled up existing interventions and is on track to pilot the malaria vaccine,” she said.
She stressed that “it is of great pride to me to have met the target for reduction of the mortality indicator as promised by the President.”
Despite these significant results, she disclosed that “people still die from malaria and the disease continues to be the number one cause of out-patient attendance in our health facilities” and expressed worry Ghana is listed among the 10 African countries with a high burden of malaria in the world.
Looking forward, the First Lady was confident that, “it is possible to achieve zero malaria. Globally, more countries, are moving towards zero indigenous cases. In 2017, more countries reported fewer than 10 000 cases, as compared to 2016 and 2010. The number of countries with less than 100 indigenous cases, which is a strong indicator that elimination is within reach, increased from 15 countries in 2010 to 24 countries in 2016 and 26 countries in 2017.”
“We can also do it, if we all work together and follow guidelines established by the WHO and our national strategy,” she emphasised.