Students of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) have joined forces with the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN) to eliminate malaria in Ghana.
The move is to widen the platform for advocacy communication towards the elimination of the disease.
A seven-member student executive to steer the affairs of the AMMREN -GIJ chapter has, therefore, been sworn in to serve as agents of change in the malaria elimination efforts.
Speaking at the inauguration of the executive in Accra, a Programme Officer of the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), Ms Vivian Aubyn, said in spite of the gains made in the efforts to eliminate malaria from Ghana, illnesses due to malaria were still high.
According to her, rural, hard to reach areas, residents of urban poor communities and people in the northern sector of the country are the most affected.
She said the NMCP had collaborated with stakeholders to draft a new strategic plan, starting from 2014 to 2018, that would focus on accelerated control and concentrate efforts in the high transmission areas in the Upper West, Upper East and Northern regions.
So far, Ms Aubyn said bed nets distribution in antenatal clinics and schools (targeting pregnant women and children less than five years) had increased coverage and helped in preventing malaria.
“I must say that the distribution of nets in schools started in July last year and has been embraced by teachers, communities and schoolchildren to the extent that the NMCP office has been inundated with telephone calls,” she said.
She pointed out that the era when every fever case was treated as malaria was over and that the new policy was to diagnose all suspected cases under the test, treat and track strategy.
“This requires all suspected fever cases to be tested and only cases with positive malaria test results treated with anti-malaria drugs,” he said.
Behavioural in School change
A researcher at the Dodowa Health Research Centre, Dr Alberta Amu, advocated the accelerated distribution of insecticide treated nets to all age groups to achieve universal access.
She also said there was the need for behavioural change communication strategies which would educate individuals on the need to sleep in treated nets to prevent malaria.
“Malaria elimination in Ghana is feasible and doable. It would require team effort and long-term consistent commitment from all stakeholders,” Dr Amu said.
The Executive Secretary of AMMREN, Mrs Charity Binka, stated that malaria was a major public health problem in Ghana and a development issue.
She said the AMMREN-GIJ chapter sought to attract young journalists to advocate the post-2015 Millennium Development Goal agenda of eradicating malaria.
The Rector of GIJ, Mr David Newton, said the institute had designed a new course in health communication, which is awaiting approval from the National Accreditation Board (NAB), to increase health reporting and communication.