Maranatha prep-school recently received a donation of mosquito nets from the Ghana Health Service, so I was asked to help hand these out to the students of class 2. I and teachers from Maranatha prep-school then also explained to the students the importance of these nets in preventing malaria and how they should be used in order to be effective.
|A teacher at Maranatha prep-school explaining|
how to use a mosquito net.
Malaria is, of course, still one of the big killers in many parts of Africa. According to Doctors Without Boarders “Every year, malaria kills around 660,000 people and infects more than 200 million.” (here is the link) and according to the UNICEF Ghana FactSheet on Malaria from 2007:
• 3.5 million people contract malaria every year in Ghana
• Approx. 20,000 children die from Malaria every year (25 per cent of the deaths of children under the age of five).
• Even if a child survives, the consequences from severe malaria such as convulsions or brain dysfunction can hamper long-term development and schooling.
• The annual economic burden of malaria is estimated 1-2 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product in Ghana.
A lot more has to be done to stop the spread of Malaria. I believe one of the solutions has
been to make the medication that cures malaria
easily available, however, this has also had negative effects. From my experience of talking to Ghanaian friends and family, I have discovered that this medication is used at anytime that symptoms appear that are those of malaria – which may often be just a common cold
or fever. This means that it is more likely for the malaria parasites to become
drug-resistant to this medicine and thus make it less effective. The same seems to be
the case across many African countries, like stated in the Daily Nations Article from Kenya. In this article a pharmacist from Kenya notes “It has become commonplace
that when some people develop some fever they rush straight to their local
pharmacist and demand malaria drugs. In some of those cases, the underlying
disease is rarely malaria."
|Demonstrating how to hang up a mosquito net so|
that no mosquitoes can enter
|Handing out a mosquito net|
It is so difficult to develop medicine and drug-resistant parasite add an additional hurdle. Thus, I believe that raising awareness and educating on this issue is vital. Hence, charities such as Cheerful Hearts Foundation that I worked with on my last visit to Ghana and who are now also a Global Giving Partner Project are so vital in taking over this role. They organise awareness talks at schools on this issue and the students then bring this knowledge back home and educate their parents and extended family. By handing out mosquito nets and educating people about how to prevent malaria and how to use the medication, one is able to save many lives!