The National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the National Malaria Advocacy Committee (NMAC), has introduced Gifty Naana Dansoa Anti, a Journalist as Ghana’s New Malaria Advocate and Champion.2
She is also the current Chief Executive Officer of GDA Media limited, producers of the Stand Point Television programme, which she hosts, and a staunch women’s rights and feminist advocate among other credentials, and had impacted many lives over the years with her social philanthropic engagements.
Dr Kezieh Malm, Programme Manager of the NMCP, at a brief introduction ceremony in Accra on Thursday, said engaging champions and influencers across the various sectors and spheres, was one key priority in the advocacy and communication strategy of the institution.
“We believe Champions with their charisma, beliefs, social influence and available platforms are often needed to promote change and uptake of interventions, and support in generating and mobilising national and community support for the overall malaria control and elimination as part of the ‘Zero Malaria Starts with Me’ campaign,” she said.
Dr Malm said although Ghana had made significant progress in the fight against malaria, the burden remained high with the entire population still at risk, hence the need for renewed commitment and sustained mobilisation at all levels of society to make further progress.
She explained that the country had adopted initiatives like the “High Burden High Impact,” by putting in place pragmatic strategies for achieving elimination by 2030, even if not nationally, then in some parts of the country in line with the goal of the African Union.
To fulfil the objectives, the National Malaria Strategic Plan had been revised with a focus on these pillars and linked to the pan-African “Zero Malaria Starts with Me” campaign,” aimed at accelerating march to achieve the 2030 target and overcome the challenges, she said.
The NMCP, she said, had also been implementing multisectoral strategies in which advocacy was key to ensure ownership for eliminating the malaria, and advocating it to be prioritised on the national development agenda.
Madam Norkor Duah, the Chairperson of the National Malaria Advocacy Committee, congratulated the New Malaria Advocate and Champion for her uptake of this challenging but key opportunity to lead the campaign.
She said the COVID-19 pandemic had set new challenges, especially in the health sector, bringing the fight against malaria to a point where building stronger partnership to sustain momentum and maintain malaria as a key item in the national and local policy agenda had become critical.
She said communications and advocacy efforts of the malaria control and ultimate elimination agenda therefore focused on near-term priorities such as mobilising the power of mass communications to empower individuals to adopt behaviours that foster control and elimination of the disease, and directing policy makers’ attention to important subjects regarding malaria, and framing those issues for debate and resolution.
Madam Duah, said there was the need to prepare current and future leaders to effectively utilize communication strategies to promote malaria control through behaviour change and policy implementation, and strengthening engagements between health professionals and journalists to help create a better public understanding of the current state of malaria interventions.
Gifty Anti, in her acceptance speech, described her call to lead the malaria advocacy as humbling, a great task bestowed upon her, yet an opportunity to serve her nation better than ever.
She said working as a journalist for the past 25 years presented her with opened opportunities to travel across the length and breadth of the country, and to witness some of the dire situations and urgent needs of Ghanaians, especially those at the grassroots.
She said the current national statistics on malaria particularly on children and pregnant women, as well as the high cost of treatment, the socio-economic effects of the disease due to absenteeism from school and work painted a gloomy picture for the country’s future, which should scare policy makers to prioritise resources and other support to achieve elimination.
She accepted the challenge and pledged her commitment to work hard in collaboration with all stakeholders including the media, focusing on areas such as malaria prevention, treatment, ensuring availability of working tools for healthcare professionals and behaviour change of communities and individuals towards the disease.
She was presented with a plaque