Some young Ghanaian advocates have been selected from 10 regions of the country, to be trained to help in malaria eradication advocacy, under a project called the “Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health”.
The 11, young people, aged between 18 to 35 years are to be trained under a programme being implemented by a United Kingdom-based organisation, Results UK, in partnership with the Hope for Future Generations (HFFG), a non-governmental organisation in Ghana, and the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP).
The youth advocates are billed to travel to Ethiopia on January 26, to be trained in a five-day training programme so they come back to influence decision-makers to scale-up malaria financing, in a bid to accelerate efforts at eradicating malaria in Ghana to a zero point.
The latest World Malaria Report 2019 put Ghana as one of the 10 highest malaria burden countries in Africa.
Ghana has however, been able to reduce malaria deaths to about 75 per cent while new infections of malaria keep increasing due to people’s attitude towards the use of insecticide treated nets, and reduction in funding, experts have said.
Also, many countries are said to be now experiencing increases in malaria cases after 15 years of consistent declines in malaria cases and deaths, with the last three years recording slow progress in cases.
Mrs Cecelia Senoo, Executive Director, HFFG, who had earlier sent a delegation of the project implementers to pay a courtesy call on the Minister of Health and the Ghana Health Service, said the one-year youth advocacy programme was being implemented in Tanzania and Sierra Leone as well.
She said the Ghanaian advocates were selected from 200 applicants who applied for the training programme would, after the training in Ethiopia, be involved in a variety of advocacy activities like potentially developing and launching a Universal Health Coverage campaign during the election periods in their countries
They would also be talking to world leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda.
Mrs Senoo said in all, 25 advocates were to be trained in the three countries to become “vibrant advocates for Malaria”, adding that the initiative was an African one aimed at using home grown knowledge that could produce results.
Dr Kezia Malm, Programme Manager, NMCP, said Malaria still remained the number one cause of outpatient attendance and costs the nation and individuals’ lots of money and resources.
She said Ghana had over the years rolled out many interventions together with donor partners in dealing with the disease, but it had become necessary to increase domestic funding to fight the diseases due to dwindling donor support.
Dr Malm emphasized the need to increase domestic resources in the fight against the disease, saying, “If you look at how we have progress with decreasing malaria deaths, we just need to push things more and not do things as usual to get to the zero point”.
She said the partnership of the young malaria advocates was very welcoming since they would help in advocating and mobilising the necessary public-private sector support towards zero eradication of malaria infections and deaths.
She said going forward, the NMCP would work towards revamping the Ghana Malaria Foundation to mobilise more funds as well as follow-up on the 0.5 percent District Assembly common fund earmarked towards malaria programme in the country.