MOH pledges to eradicate malaria
MOH pledges to eradicate malaria Website
This year's health summit of Health Development Partners opened in Accra with a pledge by the Ministry of Health to completely eradicate malaria which had an estimated total economic cost of 772.4 million US dollars per annum. Major Courage Quashigah (Rtd), Minister of Health, who opened the summit, said the amount was equivalent to the MOH's annual budget for 2008 and that if urgent actions were not taken, the disease, being the number one cause of morbidity and mortality, would erode the National Health Insurance Fund as well. During the three-day summit, stakeholders would agree on the 2008 priorities after reviewing progress and lessons in 2007, and the vision of the future as captured in the Health Policy five-year programme of work from 2007- 2011 as well as Ghana Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy. Major Quashigah said the calculation of the treatment of malaria, which translated to GH 30.04 cedis or 32.65 dollars per capita, was based on the number of reported cases alone and was thought to be an underestimation. "For this reason, in 2008, we will continue with the distribution of insecticide treated nets and promote the intermittent treatment of malaria among pregnant women as well as the proper case management of those with malaria," he said. Major Quashigah said as part of the intervention, the high impact rapid delivery programme was being complemented with other programmes to scale up the control of malaria as well as Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS with funds from the Global Fund and other development partners. The Health Minister said the government would be working with stakeholders to develop a medium-term strategy to eliminate malaria as a public health problem in addition to polio and measles. He said documentation for certification of Ghana as a polio-free country had been accepted by the Africa Regional Commission on Polio Certification and for the past four years measles cases had fallen below 500 with no deaths reported. He said improvements in the maternal, infant and neonatal care would help reduce maternal and child mortality and this could be achieved if pregnant women delivered under supervision in health facilities with those with complications receiving caesarean section and safe blood. Major Quashigah said there was the need for adequate numbers of health workers and well-equipped facilities in the remotest parts of the country to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. He said regenerative health and nutrition was another priority the MOH was undertaking to address risk factors for ill-health and that it had been piloted in 10 districts and would be scaled-up in 2008. Regenerative health aims at promoting health literacy, healthy lifestyles and healthy environment to renew strength and prevent diseases. Touching on the National Health Insurance Scheme, Major Quashigah said it was one of the most important pro-poor social policies to be implemented by government which was operational in all districts with 55 per cent coverage as at September this year. He said to make it sustainable, a closer look would be taken on the financing of the fund, and improve access and quality of service by improving the timeliness of claims and monitoring of supporting hospitals to manage resources efficiently. He mentioned the three challenges that the health sector faced as the availability and productivity of the human resource for health delivery; availability and accessibility of health infrastructure; and ensuring adequate and predictable financing of the programme of work. As the first step, the Ministry would consolidate the programme for rationalising salaries of health workers and initiate a programme to enhance workforce productivity. "I see 2008 to be a challenging and busy year. It is for this reason that I declare 2008 as a 'Year of Action' for the health sector" he said, and called on all partners and stakeholders to help to make a difference. Ms Lidi Remmelzwaal, Ambassador of the Netherlands, who represented the development partners, said all stakeholders must work in a coordinated manner to complement one another. She said the MOH must complement the work of the District Assemblies in the provision of social services like water, education and sanitation to make the regenerative health aims a reality. She called for collaboration between the Ministries of Health, Finance and Economic Planning, Education, Water Resources, Works and Housing and the Local Government and Rural Development in promoting health for all and that the development partners would strive to support and participate in their endeavours. Pastor (Dr.) Mensa Otabil, Founder and General Overseer of the International Central Gospel Church, who chaired the opening, called on the authorities to ensure that the communities were structured in such a way to allow for space to exercise, relax and enjoy the natural environment to cut down on stress. He said both adults and children experienced a lot of stress due to bad planning which had resulted in all the bad things happening in the country, adding that, the nation had the duty to produce sane but not stressed human beings. Pastor Otabil said Ghanaians had acquired the taste for all the bad things including fatty and refined foods adding that people should eat more fruits and vegetables and exercise a lot so as not to fall prey to diseases.