Gambia on course to roll back malaria
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Kandeh, the deputy programme manager at the National Malaria Control Programme has disclosed that in The
Gambia, malaria significantly affects social and economic development but that
the country is one of the leading countries to meet ‘the Abuja Targets’.
explained that malaria incidence in the country has dropped by 85%; admissions
dropped by 74% and malaria deaths dropped by 90% in 2008; 83.2% of children
under 5 have access to treatment within 24 hrs of onset of fever in western
health region (MIS 2009) and also 60% in the remaining 5 health regions ( MIS
He was speakingrecently at a day’s workshop convened by the African media and malaria research network (Ammren), Gambia chapter. According to him, malaria is a major health problem from which 300-500 million people suffer annually, and over 1 million deaths occur annually with vast majority of cases and deaths occur in Africa and an Africa child dies of malaria every 30 seconds.
Further recognising the burden of malaria on the african continent, Kandeh said that 44 African leaders and government representatives met in Abuja Nigeria in April 2000 to discuss the malaria issue. They reaffirmed their commitment to ‘roll back malaria’ and set interim targets for Africa which was called ‘the Abuja Targets’. The Target, he notedhowever challenged other world leaders to join them in recognising the importance of tackling malaria as a disease of poverty; hence April 25th was declared Africa Malaria Day to be commemorated annually.
The day, he noted is an opportunity for countries to learn from each other’s experience and support each other’s efforts in bringing about new donors to join a global partnership against malaria; research and academic institutions to flag their scientific advances to both experts and the general public; international partners, companies, and foundations to showcase their efforts and reflect on how to scale up what has already worked. “This presents a chance for all to make a difference, (government, companies, charity, or individual) to generate broad gains in multiple areas of health and human development,” he added.
Kandeh went on to assert that The Gambia Malaria Policy outlined key intervention areas; notably malaria case management, prevention and control of malaria in pregnancy, advocacy, partnerships, social mobilisation, surveillance and research, as well as monitoring and evaluation; which provides access to prompt and effective treatment for malaria within 24hrs of onset of symptoms.
Coartem and other effective anti-malarial drugs, he said are available in all public health facilities as well as some private health facilities in the country. And that refurbishment and expansion of laboratory services, strengthening of laboratory services and referral system and introduction of QC for malaria diagnosis are all on course in the country. The NMC deputy programme manager further stated that the gains registered by the country against malaria were achieved through Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) which received a coverage of 80%; environment management (set setals) and community education.
“To increase the country’s gains it needs mobilising resources to ensure availability of the drugs and other malaria commodities; andincrease in the health budget allocation would ensure sustainability of interventions. The media should promote the use of preventive services to assist individuals and communities to take full responsibility of their own health and encourage people to use curative services, through community mobilisation and sensitisation; encourage sleeping under treated bed nets; use mosquito screening on doors and windows, and seek care early, and also take ant-malaria drugs as prescribed by health workers,” he concluded.
Author: Bintou KB Janneh