Bertha Badu-Agyei, GNA
Koforidua, July 31, GNA - Mr Prosper Agbaagbah, an officer with the Malaria Control Programme of the Eastern Regional Health Directorate of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) encouraged the public to cultivate the habit of always sleeping under the Insecticide Treated Nets
He said most people do not sleep under the ITNs with the excuse of experiencing discomfort and the heat associated with it, “But that is the only effective and sustainable way we can prevent
mosquitoes from biting us and we getting malaria”, he added.
Speaking in interview with the Ghana News Agency, Mr Agbaabah said Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) continued to provide effective protection against disease vectors including mosquitoes that transmit malaria.
The interview formed part of the media campaign to highlight malaria as part of the USAID People for Health project.
The five-year P4H Project-March 2016- March 2021 would ensure improved access to quality health service delivery for citizens in 20 districts selected from four regions- Greater Accra, Eastern, Northern and Volta regions.
The project is being implemented by a consortium of three organisations led by SEND-Ghana, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), with Penplusbytes another NGO and the Ghana News Agency as partners.
It seeks to leverage opportunities for change, building on consortium members’ existing good relations with local governments, District Health Management Teams and the USAID ongoing initiatives in the health sector.
In many countries, promotion of LLIN usage and ownership had focused on the attainment of universal coverage. However, modalities for achieving these objectives remained a challenge in many countries including.
He noted that the Ministry of Health (MOH) and GHS have promoted the use of LLINs and Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) as proven malaria vector control interventions since 1998.
LLINs ownership and their usage have been low over the years. The overall objective among others was to attain 100 % households ownership of at least one ITN; 80 % of general population sleep under ITNs; 85 % children under-five and pregnant women sleep under ITN by the year 2015, “but people still do not sleep under it even though they have bought them”.
The country had used different channels for the distribution of ITNs and mainly given to children under five years and pregnant women from 1998 to date.
These channels included distribution through Maternal and Child Health Promotion campaigns, voucher schemes and highly subsidized sale of the nets at the health facilities among others. The use of the nets among children under five years of age and pregnant women was 28 % and 20 % respectively
Mr Agbaagbah noted that malaria burden in Ghana was a challenge to human development and was both a cause and consequence of under-development and continued to be a leading cause of morbidity. It has accounted for about 38 % of all outpatient department (OPD) attendance and 30 % of all hospital admissions.
A cross-section of the public the GNA spoke to from New Juaben, Akuapem North and the Upper-Manya Krobo districts on the utilization of the bed nets confirmed that though they have bought the nets, they do not sleep under them.
Whilst some mentioned heat as the main reason for not using the ITNs, others cited the inconveniences in hanging the nets on the bed as their main hindrance.
Madam Dede Koryo, a mother of three, at Asesewa told GNA, that she had four of the ITNs and got them through the antenatal and child welfare clinics over the years, yet, “I am not using any of them because my husband’s says it generates a lot of heat and makes sleeping uncomfortable”.
Instead, they have a fixed a trap door to prevent mosquitoes from entering their rooms, but admitted that they always get mosquitoes bites and malaria.
A civil servant, Mr Kwasi Koh, in Koforidua and a father of four said all his children in school have been given the ITNs because it was a school requirement, adding that “The first time I tried it myself I and the children tried it at home, we couldn’t sleep due to the intense heat, we had to stop using them”.