A malaria elimination strategic plan aimed at achieving zero malaria incidence in the country by 2028 has been launched in Accra.
The plan will be the main document to drive the country’s transition from malaria control to its elimination across the country.
At the launch of the document on the theme: “Zero malaria starts now — Launching Ghana’s path to elimination”, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in a speech read on his behalf by the Presidential Advisor on Health, Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, gave an assurance of the government’s commitment to provide the political will and resources for the deployment and implementation of all elimination activities to achieve the expected target.
He urged stakeholders, especially, the private sector, to get involved and help build a stronger health system.
“Through collective efforts, the government, public and private sector and communities at all levels must continue to demonstrate leadership, adopt sustainable approaches and implement malaria elimination interventions,” the President added.
The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, said malaria had remained a priority disease under government’s policies and initiatives, resulting in progressive milestones.
Over the years, he said millions of people had been reached with life-saving interventions through smart investments, strong and enduring partnerships, a dedicated workforce and effective leadership.
Participants in the national malaria elimination strategic plan in Accra
By the end of 2022, the minister said malaria-related deaths at all ages had been reduced from 3,889 in 2008 to 155, while under-five malaria case fatality rate also reduced from 1.7 per cent in 2008 to 0.06 per cent in 2022.
And in 2008, the country recorded 16 people dying from malaria out of 100,000 malaria admissions.
The number reduced to six in 2022, with new malaria infections per 1,000 population declining from 341 to 178 in the last five years.
However, the minister said, data analysis showed that malaria remained the number one cause of health facility visits in the country in 2022, constituting more than 20 per cent of all diseases diagnosed at the outpatient department from 2018 to 2022.
The 2022 Holistic Assessment report showed that the Upper East Region recorded the worst malaria incidence of 349.2 per 1,000 population.
Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, said the country, upon achievement of its malaria elimination goal would join the 43 countries across the world that had successfully eliminated malaria.
He said two main committees – the Independent National Malaria Elimination Oversight Committee and the National Malaria Elimination Technical Coordination Committee, were to be constituted to drive the elimination agenda.
Programme Manager of the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP), Dr Keziah L. Malm, said malaria, an infectious disease caused by the plasmodium parasite and transmitted through the bite from an infected female anopheles mosquito, was responsible for the about 608,000 deaths worldwide in 2022.
The elimination strategy, she said, would target interruption of transmission, zero locally acquired cases and prevention of re-establishment of transmission.
The goal, Dr Malm said, was to reduce malaria mortality by 90 per cent by 2028, reduce malaria case incidence by 50 per cent by 2028, and achieve malaria elimination in 21 districts by 2028.
She, however, said the programme would require about $3 billion for the implementation of the strategy to avert 86 million clinical malaria cases, 4,468 deaths, while Ghana stood an economic benefit of $32 billion.
Dr Malm added that without the interventions, there would be 39 million additional malaria clinical cases, 2,530 deaths and $15 billion in forgone outputs by 2028.
The World Health Organisation Multicountry Assignment Officer for Ghana, Liberia, Gambia and Sierra Leone, Dr Sharmila Lareef, said there was the need for a high-level commitment and a renewed and stronger partnership for the achievement of the malaria elimination strategy goals.
She said WHO would continue to provide technical assistance for the country to achieve the set target.