Private sector support key in achieving Zero Malaria in Ghana
In 2019, out of the 229 million cases and 409 000 malaria deaths globally, 11 countries contributed to these statistics with 10 of these countries being in Africa including Ghana.
Malaria remains a major cause of illness and death in Ghana, particularly among children and pregnant women accounting for 41% of outpatient cases due to suspected, 21% due to confirmed malaria cases and 18% inpatient cases due to malaria in 2020. The disease continues to be the highest disease expenditure in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the burden on all aspects of human life is enormous. On the average, households spend 5.70 - 48.73 US Dollars per episode. Cost of treatment and care typically hovers around 10.20 - 46.62 US Dollars. 8 - 9 workdays are lost by patients; 5 days by caretakers per episode.
Ghana is currently in the control phase; thus, reducing malaria morbidity and mortality by scaling up interventions but yet to reach pre-elimination stage where less than 5% of the suspected cases reporting at hospitals are positive.
The Ghana Malaria Control Programme whose primary objective is to reduce disease and death due to malaria, especially in children under five years and pregnant women have undertaken several control interventions including: Distribution of Long Lasting Insecticide Nets (LLINs), Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS), Laval Source Management (LSM), Malaria Vaccine RT’SS (Mosquirix TM), Intermittent Prevention Treatment (IPTp), Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC), Case Management Diagnosis and Treatment. These interventions are supported by crosscutting interventions in the areas of Research, Surveillance, Monitoring and Evaluation, Social and Behavior Change Communication.
Ghana’s Malaria interventions have yielded some positive impact; Fewer people keep dying from malaria. 308 deaths were recorded in 2020 compared to 1264 in 2016. Malaria related deaths also reduced from 2799 in 2012 to 308 by the end of 2020. In 2012, the country recorded 8 people dying from malaria every day while only one person died from malaria every day in 2020.
To consolidate the gains made so far and move on to achieve the Zero Malaria target, genuine concerns about risk of dwindling donor funding to implement planned activities are rife. It is in this vein that Ghana’s revised Malaria Strategic Plan has identified the involvement and active participation of the private sector as key in efforts to eliminate malaria.
Riding on the success of the ‘Zero Malaria begins with me’ movement launched across Africa in 2018 by Pan-African commercial bank Ecobank, the RBM Partnership and advocacy think tank Speak Up Africa, Ecobank Ghana, has announced plans to launch the Zero Malaria Business Leaders Initiative in partnership with the Ghana Malaria Control Programme. The aim is to mobilize the private sector to support efforts being made to eliminate Malaria and leverage on the skills and influence of the private sector leaders.
Eliminating Malaria in Ghana is estimated to cost 951 million dollars from 2020-2029 and the ability to generate domestic resources through such initiative among others has the potential to escalate the momentum being gathered to draw the line against malaria in Ghana.