Journalists from both the electronic and print media have on Friday October 26 pledged to intensify their efforts in raising public awareness on malaria prevention and control.
The journalists, made this promise at a workshop organised by the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) aimed at building awareness on malaria amongst journalists and the introduction of the new malaria drug.
Officially opening the workshop, the Manager National Malaria Control Programme, Malang Fofana, said they are embarking on a process of policy change.
He said in the past, health officials prescribed chloroquine tablet to treat malaria, but now they have discovered that it is not very effective in treating the disease.
Mr. Fofana revealed that the department of Health services is coming up with a new malaria drug, called coartem. This drug he said, is very effective and can treat malaria.
He described people's attitude towards treatment as negative which needs to be changed.
Mr. Fofana said even if they are given the best medicine, if they do not take it accordingly, it would be of no use. "People need to comply," he said.He pointed out that the mosquito is not easy to control and the best way is to have preventive strategies.
He expressed hope that the information received will be disseminated to the people.
Speaking earlier, Madam Abie Khan, head of regional Health team, said the department of Health singles out malaria as one of the biggest burdens in the sector. She disclosed that the project is funded by the Global Fund Against Malaria.Madam Khan said there is a new drug in the malaria treatment which will replace chloroquine.She, however, describe journalists as an important tool in information dissemination and that together with them there will be a difference. She urged them to report objectively and not subjectively.
Adam Jagne Sonko, who chaired the opening ceremony, said that with journalists they can reach a very wide range of audience.
Health officials at the workshop said the new malaria drug, coartem, is already in The Gambia and a sample was shown to journalists but will be effective in November or early December. They noted that their staff need to equip themselves with the new drug before it can be given out to the people.
This drug is said to be very expensive and the treatment is 24 tablets but should be taken accordingly. However, the medicine is not recommended for children who are below five years and pregnant women. The details about the new malaria drug would be published in Foroya's Health and Nutrition Column.