No More Malaria | “Malaria continues to be a leading cause of cause of Outpatient Department (OPD) attendance, admission and death among children under five years.”
This was the Ashanti Regional Director of Health, Dr Alexis Nang-Beifubah, has announced at this year’s midyear review of the Ashanti Region
Figures at the Ashanti regional office of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) show that the region recorded 992,187 cases of malaria in 2016, which showed a decline from data in previous years, where 1,036,761 and 1,123,366 cases were recorded in 2015 and 2014, respectively as OPD-confirmed malaria cases.
Speaking at the 2016 Annual Health Performance Review in Kumasi, Dr Nang-Beifubah said the GHS resorted to malaria control strategies over the period.
He listed malaria, upper respiratory tract infection, rheumatism and other joint disorders and diarrhoea as the top five diseases in the region.
The above is no news in the Health Sector.
The same can be said of all other regions in Ghana.
During this year’s midyear review of the various Regional Health Directorates, one could take a wild guess that Malaria would be the leading cause of OPDs attendance, admission and death among children under five years, and would not be far from right.
The devastating effect of malaria in our communities cannot be overemphasized.
Head porters, popularly known as Kaya-yei are even at the mercy of Malaria because of their place of abode.
It is to save them from Malaria that the Heels and Boots International embarked on what could best be described as a “life saving project”
Thursday, 21st September, 2017, came with a ray of hope and determination to bring smiles and to change the narrative of how Kaya-yei battle and survive malaria on the streets of Accra.
Kaya-yei are often migrants from remote regions who have come to the cities such as Accra in search for better employment and greener pastures. These are Accra’s female market porters some as young as eight who have made the streets of Accra their home. They sleep at night in the open with plastic covers as protection against rain and mosquitoes.
Heels & Boots International (HBI), an inspiring women-led social enterprise in Ghana with a vision and an innovative approach to solving some of Ghana’s socio-economic issues and seeking to empower under-privileged women with requisite skills in Entrepreneurship, Agribusiness, economic independence as well as dealing with life and health matters, embarked on a campaign dubbed “The No More Malaria Campaign” to provide a means of support for Kaya-yei and their children to survive without Malaria throughout the rainy season and beyond and to create a platform on which these vulnerable ones could be sensitized on the importance of Environmental management, Symptoms, Prevention, and Malaria vaccines (ACTs) available at Public Health facilities.
According to the World Health Organization, Malaria remains a major killer of children, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, taking the life of a child every 2 minutes. In 2015, there were 438,000 deaths from Malaria globally, and about 306,000 of these were children under 5 years of age.
The UN records that over 6.2 million malaria deaths have been averted between 2000 and 2015, primarily of children under five years of age in sub-Saharan Africa. The global malaria incidence rate has fallen by an estimated 37 per cent and the mortality rates by 58 per cent.
Although Ghana has recorded about 10 million cases of Malaria during the year 2015, contributing to 38.1% of OPD cases, there’s still more work been done to curtail this challenge. Poverty and illiteracy has left a wide knowledge gap in vulnerable communities especially on the subject of eradicating Malaria.
In supporting Ghana’s Malaria Control Programme and achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal No. 3 on ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being for all at all ages which is essential to sustainable development, Heels & Boots International partnered with the Friends of Health Association – FOHA Ghana (Professional Health practitioners), Ghana Health Nest, Ghana’s leading website for trusted health news, medical information, patient and professional experiences, healthy lifestyle tips and ADK Consortium, a Management Consultant specializing in Infrastructure Development and responsible for some landmark projects that have defined Ghana’s infrastructural progress globally, ie; the JOB600 Tower Block, Kempinski Gold Coast Hotel, and ADK’s flagship social impact project dubbed “The ADK Gifts of Hope Project”, which focuses on providing assistance to the needy and under-privileged in our Society.
Through the dusty streets of Agbogbloshie, the slow moving human and vehicular traffic, the NO MORE MALARIA CAMPAIGN witnessed about 100 Kaya-yei and their children trouping to the venue, in front of the Kayayoo Association Office at Agbogbloshie. Education and sensitization on the causes, symptoms and prevention of malaria was facilitated by FOHA. Good sanitation measures were also outlined for the Kaya-yei to practice. The campaign climaxed with free voluntary malaria test screening and the distribution of the “NMM pack” to 50 Kaya-yei since our resources were limited.
The NMM pack consisted of 1 treated Mosquito Net, 3 Mosquito repellant lotions, 2 Hand sanitizers and drinks and biscuits for the children.
Out of about 100 Kaya-yei and children that participated, 50 of them voluntarily took part in the medical screening exercise and only one baby tested positive for the malaria parasite and was given first-aid treatment and further directed to a health facility.
The NO MORE MALARIA CAMPAIGN was a great success as the Kaya-yei expressed gratitude and shared experiences and stories of how the rainy season and the evidence of stagnant waters, choked gutters and pockets of flood waters was breeding mosquitoes at Agbogbloshie and how the Campaign will enhance and empower them to take good care of themselves, their children and their environment.
The next NO MORE MALARIA CAMPAIGN will be held in November at Darkuman, Accra, where most Kaya-yei reside and transcended to the various Kaya-yei dominated communities annually in Accra.
Credit: Kobby Blay