Sep 11, 2008, 6:32 AM
The Gambia under the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and its partners recently commemorated World Malaria Day.
The commemoration was held at Ballagharr Village in Lower Saloum district, Central River Region, under the theme “Invest in the Future: Defeat Malaria”.
Speaking at the ceremony, Bala Gaba Jahumpa, Minister of Health and Social Welfare, told the gathering that as Africans “we must give priority to the health sector”.
Noting that 90% of all deaths due to malaria occurs in African continent, he said 86% of deaths occurs among children under the age of 5.
“Therefore as Africans, we have no excuse in not pumping resources to fight malaria to invest in the future,” he argued.
According to him, Africa is rich in natural resources such as diamonds, gold, oil and petrol among others and asked why malaria is so prevalent on the African continent.
He commended the Gambia government under President Jammeh for the priority and support he has given to the health sector.
He appealed to Gambians, especially women and children, to use mosquito-treated bed nets.
For his part, Dr Thomas Sukwa, WHO representative, in delivering the statement of Dr Luis Sambo, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said the theme reflects the need for firm accelerated action to defeat malaria as “we move towards the deadline set for the Millennium Development Goals”.
He stated that increased domestic and external funding is needed to ensure that adequate quantities of commodities, including enough long lasting insecticide treated nets, insecticides, rapid tests, microscopes, reagents and antimalarial drugs are accessible and used rationally.
He called upon everyone to join the fight to defeat malaria, such as politicians, parliamentarians, governments, private sector officials, civil society, faith-based organizations and the mass media, to support community-based antimalarial efforts.
For his part, Ganye Touray, Governor of CRR, the theme is very fitting, saying that even though malaria is curable and preventable, the disease kills more than a million people globally each year, mainly young children.
Speaking earlier, Njanko Jammeh, regional director of health services, said this year’s theme encourages people all over the world, from the youngest to the oldest, to make individual calls for the elimination of malaria.
He revealed that in CRR, however, with references to 2012 health institutional data, malaria accounted for 4.6% of the total outpatient consultations and 38.5% were children less than five years.