Indoor Residual Spraying will never eliminate malaria in Ghana

Post date: Jul 05, 2009 9:9:33 PM

Hayford Siaw, Executive Director of Volunteer Partnerships for West Africa (VPWA) has expressed concern about the national malaria program recently launched by the Health Minister in the Eastern Region of Ghana. He has described the initiative as 'just one of the ordinary control programs'.

In an interview with this reporter, Mr. Siaw said, it is unfortunate that the Minister who had promised to adopt new strategies to combat malaria and to eradicate it will launch a new malaria program that is just the same as the measures that has been implemented over the years by the National Malaria Control Program and yet seen a rise in malaria deaths.

It will be recall that, the Health Minister on the World Malaria Day celebration on 25th April 2009 mentioned the adoption of new strategies to eradicate malaria; he emphasized the introduction of aerial insecticide dispensing and VPWA Executive Director was reported in the media as commending the Health Minister for bold initiative to adopt new strategies to eradicate malaria instead of controlling it.

However just some few months later, the new malaria initiative that was launched by the Minister on 17th June is just the same as what the National Malaria Control Program has been doing over the years that has yielded no reduction in malaria deaths.

He queried why the launch of a project that is unable to give us a time frame within which Malaria could be eradicated from the country and how much is to be spent on the project. ''We have heard of importation of motorbikes, spraying machines, pick ups, mosquito nets, insecticides etc, what was the total amount of investment going into it? The training of the mentioned 5000 young Ghanaians, what amount is it going to cost? How much are they going to be paid and for how long? When will Ghana be able to declare malaria free with this exercise? '' Mr. Siaw asks.

''The indoor residual spraying is no more effective than the bed nets, about 25% effective. The health ministry leadership is going to have to stop using the term malaria eradication.

The reason indoor residual spraying will never eliminate malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa is due to the genetic pre-disposition of some malaria mosquitoes that only bite outdoors, in addition there are also mosquitoes that will fly into a house take a blood meal and then fly out without resting on the walls of the house. Over the years there has been a propensity towards this behavior. These mosquitoes are not stupid, all of their cousins that made the mistake of going inside the house have been killed of and the survivors have dodged the bullet due to the pre-dispositions I mentioned. To say that you can get malaria only if you are inside of a house is preposterous. One infected person can indirectly infect 100 others that is how efficient the malaria mosquito is'' The VPWA Executive Director narrates.

Consequently the authorities are determined to treat the symptoms and not the cause of malaria which is the mosquito, no mosquito, no malaria, how is that a slogan he ask. ''For 2% of the total cost of 760 million dollars mentioned by the Health Minister as been spent in 2008 on treatment of malaria and its related problems I feel confident, using efficient aerial dispensing technology malaria can be eradicated in Ghana in less than three years'' Mr. Siaw emphasized.

By Constance Afiriyie

VPWA = +233 21 928245