The SMC is the intermittent administration of full treatment courses of an antimalarial medicine to children in areas of highly seasonal transmission during the malaria season.The three-day meeting is to help identify what has worked in other countries, so that they could be replicated by others.
The objective of the SMC is to prevent malarial illness by maintaining therapeutic antimalarial drug concentrations in the blood throughout the period of greatest malarial risk.
The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Aboagye, said malaria is an endemic disease in Africa and, therefore, called on the stakeholders to consider the use of other interventions, such as long-lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets, together with the SMC, to ensure that malaria was eradicated from the continent.
He said when malaria struck, it affected all sectors of the economy, and that it had imposed a grave economic and social burden on developing countries over the years.
He said in Ghana, malaria was highly seasonal and one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity among children.
Dr Aboagye, however, said the SMC had proved to be effective in the treatment of malaria among children and, therefore, needed to be scaled up across the country.
The WHO recommends SMC with sulfoxides-pyrimethamine + amodiaquine in areas with highly seasonal malaria transmission in the Sahel sub-region of sub-Saharan Africa, where the P. falciparum was sensitive to both antimalarial medicines.
It is estimated that across the Sahel sub-region, most childhood malarial diseases and deaths occur during the rainy season, which lasts generally between three to four months.
According to health experts, giving effective antimalarial treatment at monthly intervals during this period had shown to be 75 per cent protective against uncomplicated and severe malaria in children under five years of age.
In Ghana, malaria continues to be the leading cause of outpatient attendance, even though significant gains have been achieved as a result of the recent scale-up of preventive and curative interventions.
The Programme Manager of the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), Dr Keziah Malm, said the programme piloted the implementation of the SMC intervention in the Upper West Region in 2014, where most childhood mortality and morbidity from malaria occurred during the rainy season.
She said the SMC, which was implemented through a Roll Back Malaria (RBM) initiative, was scaled-up across the northern regions following the success of the programme.
She said the SMC would be implemented in the Oti Region soon, since the area was endemic with malaria among children.
The SMC Sub-regional Coordinator, West and Central Africa, Ms Murindahabi Yonipue, said the meeting would afford participants the opportunity to learn best practices from one another.