Prof Binka suggests high political commitment for eradicating malaria

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Prof Fred Newton Binka
Prof Fred Newton Binka

A Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) School of Public Health, Prof Fred Newton Binka said spirited political commitment is required to eradicate malaria from Ghana.

The major challenge to fighting the disease remained logistics, he said, and that political leaders in the country and on the African Continent needed to find sustainable funding for its elimination.

Prof Binka was speaking at a webinar organised by UHAS on the theme: “Time to Deliver Zero Malaria: Invest, Innovate, Implement.”

He said: “High political commitment will eradicate malaria in a generation.
We have tools to get there now, China has done it. We will incorporate new tools to get us there faster.”

“Malaria is a logistic problem and no longer a health problem. Ghana and Africa must wake up to the challenge – we are asleep while other countries are doing it.”

“We need to increase domestic funding. If we are waiting for aid, it will not be done. if we don’t learn to put money into it, we will run into a serious problem.”

Prof. Binka, who had led malaria elimination campaigns in parts of China and Myanmar, appealed to stakeholders to hasten the implementation of various structures for malaria elimination, which include the formation of an elimination task force.

Sharing methodologies from the provinces and countries where elimination had been successful, he said structures including a surveillance and data management system must be made effective and be built into a malaria elimination audit tool.

Facilities, health givers and seekers all need to be ready for the elimination campaign and the private healthcare industry should be implored to play a key role.

Dr Keziaha Malm, Manager of the National Malaria Control Programme, now rechristened the National Malaria Elimination Programme, said although the whole nation remained at risk of the disease, which continued to carry the highest healthcare expenditure, its elimination was possible.

Basing on the latest annual data report, she said there was a “consistent reduction in malaria parasite prevalence,” and that “when we put in the necessary resources, elimination is possible.”

Dr Malm said malaria deaths had reduced, and was also reducing in children under-five, with most regions recording single digit malaria deaths.

The nation is recording close to a 100 per cent testing rate for malaria treatment and confined cases are also on the decrease.

Interventions for pregnant women, including medications, treated nets, were also on the increase, Dr Malm said and that stakeholders were working to improve all indicators.

Athough admissions increased by eight per cent, cases had reduced by 20 per cent, she said.

Dr Malm said the he Programme had reshaped its strategic plan and changed name to reflect, and that it continued to enjoy unwavering support from the political leadership including Parliament.

The webinar is part of a series of activities by the University to mark this year’s World Malaria Day celebration, which included health walks, debates and quiz competitions.

The 2023 edition of the UHAS Malaria Newsletter would be launched during the celebration.

Professor Evelyn Korkor Ansah, the Director, Center for Malaria Research, UHAS Institute of Health Research, said the celebration emphasised the shift from prevention to control.

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