As part of efforts to get everybody to use treated bed nets in households across the country, the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) is embarking on a point mass distribution (PMD) exercise.
The exercise would begin in April this year in the Upper East, Northern, Savannah and North East regions and would be extended to the other region before the end of 2021.
Mr. Christian Atta-Obeng, Technical Officer at the Vector Control Unit of the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), said the PMD is the main strategy involved in sending many long lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) to households within a period.
He said the 2021 PMD campaign is aimed at registering at least 90% of all households in targeted regions and distributing LLINs to at least 90% of all registered households under a universal coverage principle, where one bed net goes to two people in a household.
Mr. Atta-Obeng was speaking at the fourth virtual meeting of the National Malaria Media Coalition organised by the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN) with support from the NMCP.
He said vector control is an essential strategic intervention for malaria control and LLIN is one of the vector control tools.
He explained that the general plan for the PMD would involve developing an implementation plan including area identification with population estimates and holding of regional briefings.
Mr. Atta-Obeng said a household has been defined as the number of people living together who eat from the same ‘pot’ and recognize one person as their head.
He explained that an electronic App (NetApp) installed on Samsung Tablet will be used to collect the following information which would include the name of household head, number of people in the household, house number and Location, contact number and an ID card number.
He added that a registration assistant would move from house to house to conduct the registration and that the number of LLINs allocated to each household would be generated by the NetApp.
Mr. Atta-Obeng said institutions to be registered would include soldiers, police and prisons officers’ barracks and teachers’ quarters in the case of boarding schools.
While those not be included would be all boarding schools, faith-based camps, prisons, police and military camps, which do not fall under permanent households.
He said the LLINs for the campaign are free and not for sale, therefore any individual found selling these nets would be handed over to the law enforcement agencies.
According to him, since 2003, efforts have been made to promote ownership and use of LLINs and several approaches have been tried such as using continuous distribution strategy of sending the nets to health facilities and schools.
He noted that the PMD is a revised campaign strategy by the Ghana Health Service and its partners to get the nets into households using the universal coverage principle of 1 net for 2 persons in a household, which is conducted every three years.
Mr. Atta-Obeng listed some challenges to the PMD exercise to include politicizing the campaign, low usage of LLINs and low patronage in urban areas.
He also explained why some people do not use the net noting that some claim the net is too hot, the chemicals used for the net is unsafe or that they have other vector control methods.
He urged people to avail themselves and go for registration and that registered beneficiaries should turn up in their numbers with registration details during distribution to redeem LLIN.
He said there would be strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocols during registration and distribution and added that it is not enough to receive a net but rather actual protection from malaria comes from daily and consistent sleeping under the LLIN all nights and throughout the night.
Mr. Atta-Obeng touched on Ghana’s malaria control efforts and said the goal of the national strategy from 2021 to 2025 is to reduce malaria morbidity by 50% based on 2019 figures and reduce malaria mortality by 90% based on 2019 figures. It is also to have at least six districts in pre-elimination phase.
Adding that the objective is to protect at least 80% of the population at risk with effective malaria prevention interventions by 2025.
Dr. Charity Binka, Executive Secretary of AMMREN, said the coalition has visited a number of media houses to get the editors and media houses to buy into the malaria control agenda.
She said there are discussions to institute an award scheme every year to recognize and reward journalists who excel in reporting on malaria issues.
Mrs. Eunice Mintah Agyemang, an officer at the NMCP, urged the journalists to support the PMD exercise in the various regions.