AngloGold Ashanti and the Global Fund have organized an event to mark 2023 World Malaria Day at Old Adansi Ayaase in the Adansi North District of the Ashanti Region.
The event was a continuation of ongoing efforts by the mining giants to eliminate malaria from the country.
The occasion was filled with an array of activities that were designed to raise awareness about malaria and provide practical support to the local communities.
Under the theme “time to achieve zero malaria: innovative, invest and implement,” World Malaria Day is an occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment to malaria prevention and control. It was instituted by WHO Member States during the World Health Assembly of 2007.
Key to the activities on the day was health screening, where skilled healthcare professionals were available to conduct testing and diagnosis services for malaria and other common illnesses. Dental care services were also provided to the participants which aimed to promote good oral hygiene and identify and treat dental health problems.
The Adansi North District Chief Executive (DCE), Eric Kwaku Kusi, in his speech highlighted the importance of eradicating malaria from communities on the occasion of World Malaria Day. He explained that malaria is a deadly disease caused by parasites that are spread to humans through mosquito bites. He stated that Ghana is one of the countries most affected by malaria with over 5 million reported cases annually, and that in the Adansi North District, malaria is among the top 10 killer OPD diseases.
The DCE went on to describe the success of the intensified malaria control campaign and the distribution of long-lasting insecticide nets, which resulted in no deaths among children under 5 years old in 2022. He emphasized the importance of maintaining this success in the coming years.
He lauded efforts by AngloGold Ashanti Ghana Obuasi mine in partnership with the global fund to eradicate malaria, including the indoor residual spraying program.
Mr. Kusi encouraged as many people as possible to participate in the outlined activities, including testing for suspected malaria cases. He thanked AngloGold Ashanti Malaria Control Unit, AngloGold Ashanti Ghana Obuasi Mine, and AngloGold Ashanti Health Foundation for sustaining this celebration in Ghana for the past 17 years. However, with the confirmation of the presence of a deadly new breed mosquito in the country known as Anopheles stephensi, he made a passionate appeal to AngloGold Ashanti Ghana to reintroduce the antimalaria spraying exercise in the district to help rid mosquitoes from the district.
In an interview, Eric Atuahen Agyemang, the district director for health for Adansi North expressed gratitude to AngloGold Ashanti and partners for again selecting the district for the celebration of World Malaria Day.
He said Malaria has been a major challenge in the district, claiming many lives. ” In 2022, 24,700 suspected cases of malaria were tested, with 53% of those testing positive, including pregnant women and children under five years old. In 2022, out of 362 suspected cases of malaria among pregnant women in Adansi North, 15% tested positive, which is a significant reduction from 44% in 2021″.
He intimated that children under five years old are particularly vulnerable to malaria, with 3450 cases reported in 2022, 60% of which tested positive. However, due to interventions such as creating awareness on World Malaria Day and providing bed nets to pregnant women during their first facility visit, the number of positive cases decreased significantly in 2022 to 22%.
The Health director encouraged people to use bed nets and complete their medication courses to reduce the incidence of malaria-related mortality.
“Malaria causes low levels of haemoglobin, which can lead to various health problems. The general population vaccination was introduced as an intervention to eradicate malaria in the district”, he added.
Mr. Edmond Oduro Agyei, the Stakeholders engagement superintendent, AngloGold Ashanti disclosed that the workers of the mine were previously afflicted by malaria, which greatly impacted their productivity before the introduction of the malaria control program.
Included in the 10-year socio-economic development plan of AngloGold Ashanti is a plan to improve the communities where AGA operates, Mr. Oduro said AGA identified malaria as a significant issue affecting the residents, including students and pregnant women, and thus planned to eradicate it from the communities.
“This led to the establishment of the Malaria Control Program in 2006, which we aim to expand to benefit every community. Before the program’s establishment, the records show that the Malaria Control Program had already fought about 70% of malaria cases in Adansi. Our dedication to fighting malaria earned us a partnership with Global Fund in 2008, and we have since cured around 1.3 million people of malaria every year”
He added that as a responsible mine, the company annually announce and educate the public in various districts about malaria to fight against it.
The AGA Malaria Control Program (AGAMAL) currently operates in 16 districts in Ghana. In view of this, Edmond Oduro Agyei urged other partners, institutions, and supporting organizations to collaborate with AGAMAL to expand the program and eradicate malaria in Adansi and Ghana as a whole.
Mary Oduro, a representative of the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) announced that GIZ and AngloGold Ashanti Ghana have been working together to implement a pandemic management and prevention project called “COVID-19 Pandemic Management in the Times of COVID-19 and Beyond” since September 2021. The project was later expanded to address various diseases that cause high mortality, leading to collaboration with AngloGold Ashanti to eradicate malaria. The objective of this year’s program is to work together to eliminate malaria.
“We recognize the importance of investing in and collaborating on the goal of eradicating malaria. We would like to express our gratitude to Nananom, AngloGold Ashanti, and various stakeholders who helped us launch this project. We believe that this project will provide many benefits to all of us”.