As Ghana joins the rest of the world to mark World Malaria Day on Sunday, April 25, we put the spotlight on some community Health workers in the Pru West District of the Bono East region who work under very difficult conditions to ensure that children under five who are most vulnerable to malaria receive the malaria vaccine which is being piloted in some 47 malaria-endemic districts across the country.
Ghana still remains part of the 15 countries with the highest malaria burden in the world, accounting for four percent of the global cases.
In 2019, the disease accounted for 42.8 percent of Outpatient Department cases, 22.2 percent of inpatients cases with 333 malaria deaths. Malaria which is most fatal in children under five killed 590 of them in 2016.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that in Ghana, about 20 percent of all children have malaria parasites in their blood for which reason the world body introduced the world’s first malaria vaccine known as RTS,S which targets children from six months up to 2 years of age.
In Ghana, Pru West is part of the districts selected for pilot implementation which started in 2019. About five thousand doses of the RTS,S have been administered by health workers in the district in the last two years, and this has led to a significant reduction in malaria cases and deaths especially in children under five.
Despite this achievement, however, the district with over sixty community health workers has only four motorbikes for vaccination outreach programmes, compelling health workers to use their own resources for transportation to vaccinate children in communities that are cut off from the district capital due to floods and unmotorable roads.
Some of these communities are Abaase, Zambrama and Kamampa.
GBC’s Doreen Ampofo visited the district to assess the extent of vaccination and challenges health workers face.