Aug 9, 2011, 2:00 PM
The African Media and Malaria Research Network Gambia Chapter, AMMREN, yesterday commemorated World Malaria Day with renewed calls for a robust partnership by all stakeholders in order to push the fight against malaria.
The celebration, held in the form of a day-long sensitization forum at the CIAM hall in Kanifing, brought together over 25 journalists drawn from the print and electronic media.
There was a powerpoint presentation on a wide range of topics, including the current state of malaria in The Gambia, sharing of information on malaria research done by the Medical Research Council Gambia Office, and on the importance of the use of insecticide-treated bednets, among others.
Speaking at the event, Momodou Faal, the national coordinator of AMMREN Gambia Chapter, said malaria poses a serious threat to society and unless precautions are taken, our countries will face serious consequences.
“Malaria, he added, “occurs in about 100 countries, and approximately 40% of the world’s population is at risk of contracting malaria,” Faal announced.
The Gambia, according to Faal, has over the years registered significant strides in the control and prevention of malaria in the country, through the change of treatment policy and the provision of the anti-malarial drug called Coartem in all public health facilities, as well as an increased community mobilization and participation to prevent malaria.
As always been the case, he went on, AMMREN, a leading organization in the fight against this killer disease, always deems it necessary to commemorate World Malaria Day in all its member countries.
This, he noted, was the fourth time that AMMREN is engaged in Malaria Day commemorations in its 10 member countries in Africa.
“Over the years, AMMREN has been publishing its quarterly magazine called “Eyes on Malaria”, coupled with its website which carries detail information about malaria,” Faal added.
In his view, malaria is still a major public health problem in The Gambia, accounting for over 40% of hospital visits and being the leading cause of morbidity and mortality.
He concluded by thanking the AMMREN Secretariat in Ghana through the Executive Secretary, Mrs. Charity Binka and INDEPTH Network and INESS, for funding this year’s World Malaria Day and for their unflinching support to AMMREN Gambia chapter.
Balla Kandeh, the deputy programme manager at the National Malaria Control Programme, reminded the journalists of the pivotal role they play, especially in the fight of malaria.
“Journalists have been partners in bringing down the malaria burden in this country, and I am urging you to further continue to disseminate the information on malaria issues. Over the years, we have built a very solid partnership with the media,” Kandeh added.
Also speaking at the event was Prof Umberto D’Alessandro, team leader Disease Control and Elimination MRC The Gambia, who noted that World Malaria Day came into existence only some 10 to15 years back, adding that it is important for the press and public to know what is World Malaria Day.
“World Malaria Day is very important for both the press and public. Malaria is very local in the sense that it assumes different characteristics, according to the place we are. For example, the malaria problem in Thailand will be quite different from here in The Gambia,” he added.