Operation Eradicate Malaria launched
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Operation Eradicate Malaria in The Gambia was yesterday launched by Dr Aja Isatou Njie-Saidy, vice-president and secretary of state for Women's Affairs on behalf of President Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, at the July 22nd Square, Banjul.
The launch was part of a series of activities marking the 43rd Independence anniversary celebration of The Gambia.
Launching the operation, Vice-President Njie-Saidy informed the gathering that in each of the successive administrations of the government, the improvement of the health status of all Gambians has been a top priority concern and the present five years is no exception.
According to her, the ultimate goal is to ensure a disease-free Gambia and the current twin objectives in the short-term and medium-term are to increase the understanding and management of non-communicable diseases and to reduce the burden of communicable diseases to a level that they cease to be a public health problem. She reminded the audience that malaria has been one of the main scourges and causes of death amongst children and women.
"My government has therefore not relented in waging a continous war against the disease. We have also embraced all policies and implemented all programmes formulated by the WHO and its sister UN agencies on malaria prevention and control," she said.
She added that the success registered in malaria control has admittedly been significant but quickly noted that the progress still remains below expectation.
VP Njie-Saidy then stated that the design of this project is such that attempts will be made to kill both the parasites and the larvae of the mosquitoes and will be realise through the establishment of a factory that will produce biolarvicides both for domestic use and export to the sub-region. The extension of the products of the project to the sub-region, she said, is in recognition of The Gambia's geagraphical contiguity with our neighbouring sister states and the fact that the mosquito carrying the malaria parasite respects no borders.
She then described this intervention as a sub-regional operation for inclusion in the bilateral cooperation programme between The Gambia and Senegal, and a programme for all countries for the Health for Peace Initiative and the larger malaria-endemic ECOWAS region.
She expressed hope that the governments of the sub-region will respond positively to this call for a concerted efforts to save the populations from the debilitating and anti-development burden of malaria.
She then thanked the WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and other bilateral donors, such as the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Cuba for their support in this area.
For his part, Dr Malick NJie, secretary of state for Health and Social Welfare, said malaria control calls for integration of multiple approaches and interventions. As such, he said his department, together with its partners are implementing a multi-faceted plan, which consequently contributed to the general decline in the incidence of malaria over the years.
According to him, The Gambia tops the whole of Africa in attaining the Abuja Target of Insecticides Treated Bed Net Use by children and pregnant women by 54 per of the 60 per cent target.
"Results from the recent studies conducted by the Department of State for Health and Social Welfare and its partners indicate that there was an 84 per cent reduction in the proportion of malaria cases admitted in 2006 and a 93 per cent reduction in the proportion of malaria positive slides. The number of deaths attributed to malaria declined sharply in 2002, increased slightly in 2003 and then declined to the lowest levels ever recorded (only a single episode of malaria with a fatal outcome has occurred since December 2005) in some health facilities," he said.
SoS Njie said the aim of malaria prevention and control strategy is to control malaria so that it cease to be a major public health problem in The Gambia and to provide a framework for the reduction of the malaria burden by 80 per cent by 2015.
He informed the gathering that President Jammeh has taken the bull by the horn and now directs the fight against the mosquito and the parasite. This laudable task, he added, will turn malaria into a reportable disease in The Gambia and reassured that in four years time, malaria will be history in the country.
Malang Fofana, programme coordinator of National Malaria Control Programme, thanked President Jammeh for the initiative and for providing two aircrafts for vector control and the Operation Clean the Nation.
He added that malaria causes 12 billion GDP loss to Africa and used the opportunity to call for change of attitude towards the operation.
SoS Njie also thanked their partners for the support.
The launch was attended by Hon Fatoumatta Jahumpa-Ceesay, the speaker of the National Asembly, secretaries of state, members of the UN and WHO agencies, amongst others.
Tombong Saidy of AMRA, chaired the event.
Author: by Alhagie Jobe