Many Risk Contracting Malaria, Survey Reveals

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Dr. Gwenigale (C) and partners_web.jpg

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOH/SW) and its partners have officially signed what they called an ‘Aide Memoire’ to control the spread of malaria in the country.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) leading to the signing of the ‘Aide Memoire’ was held this past Friday, March 7, in Monrovia and aims to review the progress being made by the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP), the director, Oliver Pratt said.

On behalf of Health Minister Walter T. Gwenigale, Liberia Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Bernice Dahn, commended the Malaria Program Review (MPR) group for the report, which according to her, serves as an eye opener for the country.

She said the review process took into consideration program management, procurement and supply management, integrated vector management, case management, malaria in pregnancy, advocacy and communication, among other areas.

She then thanked international partners for ‘buttressing the efforts of government in revamping Liberia’s health sector.’

For his part, World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative to Liberia, Dr. Nestor Ndayimirije, called for more media involvement in spreading messages aimed at preventing malaria.

He made a similar plea to authorities at the NMCP to increase its engagement with the media and community leaders to educate citizens on the necessary preventive measures to take against the spread of malaria. 

The MPR is a periodic joint management process for identifying and documenting progress and weaknesses in the system.

The process is also aimed at improving performance and refining the strategic direction and focus on malaria control.

The launch uncovered that Liberia’s 3.5 million people are at risk from malaria owing to several factors.

The MPR, which was launched by the NMCP and partners, indicates that pregnant women and children less than five years account for the increased number of the Liberian population at risk of contracting malaria.

Malaria epidemiology in Liberia, according to the survey, is determined by a review of data collected from routine health facility surveys, malaria indicator surveys and operational research.

According to the team that conducted the MPR process, although data reviewed indicated a decline in parasite prevalence and malaria trends in the country, the disease was still visible in several other ways.

The group observed that from the 2005 Malaria Indicator Survey (MIS), malaria prevalence was 66 percent. In 2009 it decreased to 32 percent with a further decrease in 2011 to 28 percent.

The report urged authorities at the MOH/SW to improve data quality at all levels across the country and build in feedback mechanism and data utilization.

It also observed the lack of well-established references of basic entomological (having to do with the study of insects) laboratories for effective malaria vector monitoring and surveillance.

The group, accordingly, wants the NMCP to revise its information, communication, education, and behaviour change communication; resulting in a strategic plan and guidelines to develop mechanisms for regular supply of contact.

Issues the group uncovered included low access to health services, poor health-seeking behaviour of caregivers of parents, low adherence to treatment from patients, medicines and diagnostic supplies being out of stock at health facilities, limited involvement of the private sector and medical doctors in training on malaria case management. 

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