MEDIA practitioners, especially journalists and radio presenters, have been urged to sustain the campaign on malaria prevention and treatment through their reportage as the disease is the leading cause of death in the country.
Available statistics from the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) indicates that about 4,500 deaths caused by malaria are recorded annually in public health facilities across the country, while 1,500 children under-age five and 60 pregnant women die every year from the disease.
Media practitioners have therefore been advised to pay special attention to malaria prevention and treatment programmes to reduce the disease to its barest minimum.
Journalists and radio presenters were further tasked to provide effective and factual reportage on malaria and seek accurate information on it before reporting on the disease.
Speaking at a day’s training workshop for journalists and radio presenters in the Brong Ahafo Region in Sunyani, Mr Morris Ocquaye, the Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) Adviser of Promoting Malaria Prevention and Treatment (ProMPT), said media practitioners, especially broadcasters, by passing on accurate information on malaria to the populace, would help in the control and prevention of the disease.
He stated that apart from being a killer disease, malaria could also retard the mental development of children.
Malaria, Mr Ocquaye said, is preventable and curable, so media practitioners should give equal attention to the dissemination of accurate information on the disease to the public.
Mr Ocquaye said one of the effective strategies for the prevention of malaria was the use of Long-Lasting Insecticide Treated nets (LLINS) for night-time prevention of mosquito bites.
He said the workshop was also aimed at equipping media practitioners, especially journalists and radio presenters with the requisite information on malaria to clear the misconceptions associated with the disease in the country.
The NMCP Officer at the Ghana Health Service (GSH), Mr Kwame Dzudzorli Gakpey, who presented a paper on malaria, burden, epidemiology and vector control, said everyone in Ghana could get malaria but children under age five and pregnant women were most vulnerable.
He said malaria was transmitted or spread naturally through the bite of an infected female anopheles mosquito and could also be transmitted accidentally through blood transfusion or through injection with blood contaminated with the malaria parasites.
Mr Gakpey said the typical breeding sites for mosquitoes carrying the malaria parasite included stagnant waters and rain pools, overflow water, roadside ditches, potholes, rice fields, tidal swamps, semi permanent stagnant waters along streams, rivers, among others.
He mentioned the main interventions for malaria control as the use of Long-Lasting Insecticide Treated nets (LLINs) for night-time prevention of mosquito bites, Indoor Residual Spraying of insecticides and Intermittent Prevention Treatment for pregnant women (IPTp) with Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP).
On the national anti-malaria drug policy, Mr Gakpey stated that chroloquine was no more an effective drug for malaria treatment and it had also been banned in the country, stressing that it was also an offence to sell or trade in chroloquine in the country.
He said artesunate-amodiaquine combination was the recommended drug for the treatment of malaria in the country, mentioning other approved drugs as artemether–lumefantrine and dihydroartemisinin piperaquine.
Mr Gakpey said the additional ACTs would be used for patients who could not tolerate the artesunate-amodiaquine combination as quinine drug of choice for the management of malaria in the event of treatment failure.
The Brong Ahafo Regional Health Promotion Officer, Mr William Sopiimeh, who represented the regional health directorate, urged journalists to partner the GHS to spread the information on malaria prevention to reduce the disease burden.
A media consultant for PROMPT, Ms Rosemary Ardayfio, said the workshop was to update the knowledge of media personnel to enable them to give out accurate information on malaria control and prevention.
She said it was also aimed at introducing the affordable medicines facility for malaria (AMFm), the drug and treatment policies and shift from targeted distribution to universal coverage of LLINs.