By Kebba Jeffang
With support from the Catholic Relief Service (CRS), the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) under the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare on Wednesday, 26 August, 2015 launched a Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC) campaign at a ceremony held at Wassu, in Central River Region North (CRR-N).
The campaign, which is ahead of the malaria season, is meant to reduce the malaria rate in the country particularly among children less than five years old.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Omar Sey, Minister of Health and Social Welfare said the launching is part of the government’s effort to put up malaria prevention strategies in the Gambia. He said they are working to ensure that malaria being a major public health problem in the country is stopped.
“Reducing the impact of malaria is key to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreed by every United Nations member states especially MDGs 4, 5 and 6,” said the health minister.
Health Minister Sey added that the WHO recommended SMC as an effective intervention to prevent malaria in approximately 24 million children aged 3-59 months who live in areas subject to a seasonal surge in malaria incidence mainly in the Sahel Sub-Region.
Mr. Balla Kandeh, Programme Manager, National Malaria Control Programme, warned that malaria cannot be eradicated without making the best use of its preventive materials. He said bed nets and prescribed drugs must be used rightly to be able to win the fight against the deadly disease. He reiterated that SMC is recommended in the areas of high seasonal malaria transmission.
Mr. Baba Galleh Jallow, Regional Health Director-CRR, said the launching is also meant to examine the progress made and to renew collective efforts and commitment towards eventually eradicating malaria. He said SMC is an intermittent administration of full treatment cause of an anti-malaria medicine during malaria season.
“Malaria remains a major public health problem with estimated burden of 198 million clinical episodes and 584,000 deaths worldwide attributable to malaria in 2013. A significant proportion of 90% of reported deaths from malaria occurs in Sub-Saharan Africa, where children under 5 bear most burden,” said Mr. Jallow.
Speaking earlier, Mr. Omar Khan, Governor of CRR decried the 2010 Data Malaria Indicator Survey which marked his region, CRR and URR as having the highest level of severe anaemia of 13% and malaria parasite of 10% prevalence among children.
“The reasons for such prevalence in these regions are the high level of poverty, limited availability of social amenities and health services compared to other regions. Access to those limited services is also a problem as CRR and URR are the only two regions that cover both the north and the south banks of the country,” Governor Khan said.