The Parliamentary Select Committee on Health has assured that it would ensure the strengthening of the larval source management programme targeted at immature mosquitoes to support the elimination of malaria in the country.
According to the committee, despite some challenges they witnessed, the programme was a critical component of any effective integrated vector management (IVM) targeted at killing immature mosquitoes before developing in stagnant water to cause malaria.
The chair of the Health Committee, Dr. Nana Ayew Afriyie, gave the assurance while addressing the media after an inspection tour of mosquito breeding sites in various districts in the Ashanti Region, Thursday, March 2, 2023. Touching on the problems, he indicated that some of the breeding sites they visited in Tafo, for instance, had dried out due to the dry season.
“We were struggling to find the breeding sites, which originally would have to be mapped out, and easily assessed. But then also it was difficult for us to assess these sites.
He also observed that some of the sprayers trained to undertake the spraying exercise were also a challenge.
“For some reasons, some of them [the workers] have left the job so you have a huge population, wide coverage area, but few people – about 8 or 9 – doing the spraying. It tells you that they are struggling. And so, therefore, work is being done but it won’t be effective,” he added.
These challenges notwithstanding, Dr. Ayew Afriyie asserted that larviciding was an effective tool that can be used to manage insecticide resistance in malaria control in the country.
“So, as I said, it is a strengthening exercise. We are trying to get it better because the technocrats keep saying it is a very good intervention. So as part of our oversight responsibilities, we would strengthen the course of this project,” he firmly assured.
He was, however, happy to learn that there has been a reduction in the number of reported cases of malaria and also under-5 mortality from 0.04 in 2018 to 0.00 in 2022 in the Sekyere East District.
“Per available figures, we are being told that malaria cases at the OPD have been on the decline from 2018 where it was 413.1 per a population of 1,000 to 270.4 per 1,000 population,” he said.
On the issue of increasing budgetary allocation for the project, Dr. Ayew Afriyie, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Effiduase Asokore Constituency, averred that his committee would weigh both sides of the argument and take a decision on it.
More importantly, he said the committee would push Zoomlion to sit up to ensure value for money.
“So what happens is that each place we go we need to have the structure. The structure, he explained, therefore, means that we need to know the operational team on the ground. So we are going to be so much on them, and sometimes we are going to do surprise visits which we will not tell them we are going to this area,” he noted.
This, he stressed, would make Zoomlion sit up and ensure that Ghanaians get value for money in the larval source management programme.
The Ranking Member on the Committee and MP for Juaboso, Hon. Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, said they have engaged the management of Zoomlion and charged them to address the challenges confronting the project, particularly those that emanate from the company.
“We have held discussions with the management of the company and they have agreed to increase the salary and also clear all the backlog of salaries,” he indicated.
However, he underpinned that the goal of the committee was the success of the project and its impact.
For his part, the Deputy Ranking Member of the committee, and an MP for Nabdam, Dr. Mark Kurt Nawaane, expressed: “my observation is that there seems to be a disconnect between the fight for environmental cleanliness’ and the fight against malaria.”
He explained that this was evident in the appalling conditions of the many breeding sites that they had visited.
“I believe that it is like a vicious cycle where you come and try to kill the mosquitoes. You leave the environment in that order; the water is not moving; the drains need desilting; we don’t do it, and; they [the mosquitoes] will definitely reoccur. This is because we don’t kill the mosquitoes to zero: we kill some of them and some of them remain,” he said.
Earlier at a briefing at the Sekyere East District Assembly, the Medical Superintendent of Effiduase Government Hospital, Dr. David Antwi-Agyei, revealed that malaria OPD cases have been on the decline from 2018 where it was 413.1 per 1000 population to 270.4 per 1,000 population in 2022.
He further disclosed that severe malaria cases have plateaued over the same period, adding that “case fatality of malaria declined from 0.04 in 2018 to 0.00 in 2022,”.
The Coordinator of the Larval Source Management Programme (Mosquito Control Programme) for Zoomlion, Reverend Dr. Ebenezer Kwame Addae, admonished Ghanaians to have a positive attitude towards the environment “so as to help the country’s efforts in curbing malaria.”
The committee visited some breeding sites in Tafo and Effiduase, which afforded the members the opportunity to observe the operations of Zoomlion, and also interact with the community members.