The Director of the Centre for Malaria Research of the University of Health and Allied Sciences (IHR-UHAS), Professor Evelyn Korkor Ansah, has called for immediate action and response to eradicate malaria from households in the country.
She said even though malaria was preventable and treatable, it continued to cause illnesses and deaths which impacted livelihoods across the world, hence the need for more effort to stem the tide, including changing people’s attitude and mindset about the disease.
Prof. Korkor Ansah was speaking at an inaugural lecture on the theme: "A context-driven approach to ending malaria", at the UHAS at Sakode in the Volta Region.
Toll on economy
Prof. Ansah said more attention, effort and resources must be channelled into eliminating malaria because it had a huge toll on Ghana's growth, adding that the average cost of treatment of a malaria episode to a household was approximately $6 to $49, including the loss of about 8 to 9 days of a caretaker.
She said suspected cases of malaria in the country accounted for over 41 per cent of all cases reported at outpatient departments (OPDs) of hospitals, whereas 18 per cent of all admissions were due to confirmed cases of malaria.
The disease, she added, had also accounted for about 13 to 50 per cent of medical reasons for school absenteeism in the country.
According to Prof. Ansah, there were 409,000 deaths from the disease in 87 malaria-endemic countries in 2019, and that “here in Africa, where you and I live, out of every 1,000 people, 225 fall sick of malaria every year".
"When you look at where we are now, the global index is falling. The rate at which we were reducing malaria deaths seems to have gone down and more people are dying than before.
"We must rethink and do things differently to achieve the expected impact. However, no intervention will achieve the expected results without the active participation of the community," she said.
The Vice-Chancellor of UHAS, Prof. John Owusu Gyapong, said before the country could be certified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as having zero malaria cases, there was the need to enhance efforts towards the eradication of the disease.
"We have the potential and the capacity; therefore, we need to influence people who make decisions,” he said.
The V-C commended Prof. Ansah and academia for their hard work, endless effort and contribution towards national development.