The Gambia, through the Health Minister, this week launched the national Seasonal Malaria Chemotherapy (SMC) project aimed at fighting malaria in the communities, especially among children under five years of age.
The SMC as defined by experts is the intermittent administration of full treatment courses of an anti-malaria medicine during the malaria season to prevent malarial illnesses with the objective of maintaining therapeutic anti-malarial drug concentration in the blood throughout the period of greatest malaria risk.
The project as stated by the Health Minister came on the recommendation of the World Health Organisation that SMC is an effective intervention to prevent malaria in approximately 24 million children aged 3-59 months who live in areas subject to a seasonal surge in malaria incidence (mainly in the Sahel sub-region), with numerous studies demonstrating its effectiveness.
The Gambia has made significant strides in the fight against the total elimination of malaria largely due to the policies implemented by the Government of The Gambia and this has earned the country recognised international awards. One of these policies is the monthly environmental cleansing exercise known as set-settal, instituted by the Gambian leader.
The Gambia has won a malaria award from the West African Health Organisation and last year, the country received the 2015 African Leaders Malaria Alliance Award (ALMA), for excellence in implementation of vector control on the sidelines of the 24th Ordinary Session of the African Union held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The Gambia was awarded for maintaining at least 95 percent coverage of vector control, long lasting insecticide nets and residual-spray and the monthly set-settal has proven to be an effective vector strategy.
Government figures have shown that as a result of these measures, malaria cases in The Gambia has reduced by 38 percent within a five-year period, from a total of 508,846 episodes of clinical malaria reported in the year 2008 to 273,507 in 2013.
Therefore, we would like to commend the Gambian authorities for once again reaffirming their commitment to the development of the health sector.