13 Jun 2018

Ghana's Unlikely Marriage Of Mining And Malaria Control Draws Envious Glances

Related image
AngloGold Ashanti has taken up malaria control as
part of its corporate social responsibility
Nestled in the Ashanti region of southern Ghana, the small town of Obuasi is encircled by hills, largely forested but bearing scars from open-cast and illegal mining. Eighty kilometers south of the country’s second city, Kumasi, it is a community of subsistence farmers and miners.

One of the world’s largest gold mines, it has been quarried since the 1890s. But right now the underground drills are silent and a quieter operation is underway, digging out one of the world’s smallest but most deadly predators: the malaria mosquito.

Ghana has one the world’s fifth worst malaria burden. It is the number one reason outpatients go to a hospital. But from 2004, this rural community began a turnaround that others now want to emulate. Key to the change was a partnership between a mining company, the local community and the government that led to a 75% drop in malaria cases in the Obuasi mine area in just eight years.

Such was the impact that the programme has been extended to the north of the country, where malaria is most problematic.

“Malaria used to be a very serious situation in this community,” says Nana Ewaitemaa Adam II, community leader – or “queen mother” – of the settlement of Adansi-Odumase. “Children were dying. Adults were dying. But now they come to spray and the incidence has gone down. I don’t remember the last time I had malaria.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly half the world’s population is at risk of malaria. About 90% of cases – and deaths – occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the past 10 years, Ghana has made progress. Deaths have gone down from 2,200 in 2014 to 599 last year. Yet malaria remains the leading cause of illness and death in children under five. In 2015, about 38% of outpatient visits, 27.3 % of admissions in health facilities, and 48.5 % of under-five deaths were due to malaria.

Despite these advances, countries like Ghana are being challenged by increased resistance to pesticides and drugs, as well as funding pressures.

Approximately $2.7bn (£2.03bn) was spent on malaria control and elimination efforts globally in 2016, significantly less than the $6.5bn annual investment required for the WHO’s global malaria strategy.

Countries that have eliminated malaria in recent years have tended to be subtropical or islands, like Sri Lanka.

No comments:

Post a Comment