As World Malaria Day is marked globally today, the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) has revealed that it is pushing to achieve 100% malaria testing by 2020.
Dr Nana Yaw Peprah, an Epidemiologist with the NMCP, said although malaria parasite prevalence among Ghanaians is reducing, lack of testing for the disease before medication remains a challenge.
Speaking on the AM Show on the Joy News channel on MultiTV, Wednesday, Dr Peprah said malaria mortality figures for Ghana have taken a dip, revealing that in 2018, 428 people died from malaria, compared to 2,137 in 2015.
“The gap is in testing. We are not having all the suspected cases being tested and, therefore, [people] don’t confirm malaria before [they] treat. So those are some of the few challenges we have. But per our objective, we want to achieve 100% testing.
“Meaning that by 2020, we want to ensure that every suspected case in our [health] facilities is tested. We are doing more training with the prescribers…our hope is that as we engage [the prescribers], we give them the RDTs [Rapid Diagnostic Tests] to ensure that when people come to them they are tested,” he said.
He added that it is important for people to get tested first for malaria before taking malaria medications because as parasitaemia levels drop “the mosquito can bite you but you will not get the malaria parasite. So the symptoms people will be showing may not necessarily be malaria.”
He cited an instance where, in one region, an outbreak of meningitis was mistaken by many as an outbreak of malaria until health personnel detected the problem.
World Malaria Day
On Thursday, April 25, the NMCP will head to Somanya in the Eastern Region to launch this year’s World Malaria Day.
First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, is billed at the launch.
The choice of Eastern Region town – Dr Peprah told Mamavi Owusu-Aboagye, AM Show hostess – is in recognition of the relatively high malaria prevalence rate in the region compared to others.
The theme for the 2019 World Health Day is “Zero Malaria Starts with Me.”
The theme is a call for personal and stakeholder responsibilities to prevent and eradicate the disease in Ghana at a fast pace.
Ghana is currently at the malaria control phase and is yet to move to the pre-elimination, elimination and eradication stages respectively.
Dr Peprah said before Ghana can get to the elimination, the government must adequately fund control programmes by making the eradication high on its health agenda.
”For countries that have eliminated malaria, it was high on their agenda. Everybody kept talking about it – from the President to the Labourer,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, statistics show that Ghana was doing well in all aspects of anti-malaria interventions.
Under-five malaria fatality rate has reduced from 0.6% in 2012 to 0.16 per cent in 2018, representing a 73 per cent reduction, while malaria-related admissions regarding all ages have also reduced from 428,000 in 2012 to 351,163 in 2018, which was 18 per cent reduction.