The Liberian Government has once again renewed its commitment to ensure that the devastating impact the malaria parasite has wreaked on its citizens is brought under control or eradicated.
Foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan, who represented President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the official program marking the eighth commemoration of ‘World Malaria Day 2015’ and the launch of the distribution of 2.8 million mosquito nets, stated that this commitment will be achieved with support from global partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and Global Fund.
The Foreign Minister also threw a challenge to the international community: “It is imperative that we renew our commitment globally and as a nation to combat this disease. We should continue this fight until we can feel comfortable that we have significantly reduced its impact on the world at large.”
This is a challenge to the world and the Liberian government, which first and foremost has the gavel in its hands to begin the process of halting the sickness, which is endemic to Liberia. This is because of the proliferation of the anophèles mosquito which, with one sting, inflicts the deadly disease upon our people, especially the children.
We know from our history how malaria nearly succeeded in wiping out the settlers — our founding fathers who came from across the Atlantic, as well as their indigenous brothers and sisters whom they met here. Today we can call this place home because this killer disease did not exterminate all of them. At that time, conventional medicine to treat malaria had not been invented.
From that time, malaria has been a silent killer; so we are taking the government’s commitment seriously that it will do all it can to halt the breeding places of the vector-borne mosquito. We call on all municipal governments, as well as the Ministry of Health and the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation to accelerate their efforts to clean up the villages, towns and cities. They should control all dumpsites, drains and stagnant water sites, which are the natural breeding ground for mosquitoes and other harmful parasites.
The WHO says malaria remains the leading cause of morbidity (illness) and mortality (death) in Liberia, with 38 percent of outpatient attendance and 42 percent of inpatient deaths attributable to the sickness.
However, WHO also says malaria prevalence in children under five years has been significantly reduced from 66 percent to 32 percent since 2005.
In 2010, out of a total curative consultation of 3,132,073, malaria contributed 1,265,268 cases. It also accounted for 40.4 percent of total outpatient consultations, which is an increase from 38 percent in 2009.
A total of 1,265,268 cases of malaria were diagnosed in 2010, with children under 5 years representing 38.3 percent of cases; children five and above accounting for 55.3 percent, and pregnant women accounting for 6.4 percent.
Distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria has helped to reduce the prevalence and incidence of malaria in Liberia. From 2007 to 2010, approximately 4 million nets were distributed to households with children under five, pregnant women and lactating mothers. In 2007, 655,860 insecticide-treated bed nets were distributed, compared with 1,221,700 in 2009 and 883,400 in 2010.
At the end of the World Malaria Day program at the Monrovia City Hall last Saturday, Minister Ngafuan, along with international partners, launched the distribution of the Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Mosquito Nets (LLINs). This consignment of LLINs donated by the Global Fund to fight HIV and AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) in Liberia, is the largest single donation of LLINs since the start of the Global Fund Project in Liberia in 2005.
The nets are free of charge and anyone found selling or using them for the wrong purposes should be reported to the authorities. In times past, there have been reports of the nets ending up for sale on the market. It is alleged that they have also been used by rural women for fishing. We call on the MOH to ensure that these malpractices stop.
While the Liberian government is striving to make good its renewed commitment, we also call on all Liberians to use these insecticide treated bed nets effectively. Let us ensure that our children, especially, sleep under them.
We extend thanks and appreciation to the partners and our gouvernement for these initiatives, designed to reduce drastically the impact of this sickness on the population.