30 April 2013

Gambia: Malaria Prevention


The United Nations has set aside 25th April as World Malaria Day. The day is meant to remember malaria victims and recognise the efforts of others in the fight against this killer disease. Malaria remains one of the leading killer diseases in the world, and the infection rate in Africa especially sub-Saharan Africa remains the highest in the world. The international community over the years has put in a lot of resources to combat this pandemic, but malaria still continues to take so many lives around the world. Despite the increase in funding, the infection rate is on the rise globally. We think the increase in funding should be accompanied with an increase in sensitisation at the grassroots levels. Political willingness is a game changer in this tedious battle, so more commitment is needed at the highest authority if we are to make inroads in this war. In The Gambia, it is estimated that malaria is responsible for 60% of all deaths in the country; this is alarming and more concerted efforts are needed to combat this trend. To permanently eradicate malaria in our society, we need to do the following:

First, we should take the monthly 'set settal' initiated by the president very seriously. This initiative is a fundamental step in the fight against malaria. Once our environments are clean, mosquitoes are denied the breeding space they need to multiply in numbers. The importance of the monthly 'set settal' exercise therefore cannot be overemphasized.

Secondly, the National Environment Agency should seriously enforce the anti-littering laws to help keep our environments clean. The Agency should identify designated areas for the dumping of garbage so as to avoid the blockages of our gutters and the creation of pools of stagnant water on our streets. The indiscriminate dumping of plastic bags and other used materials is hampering efforts to keep our environments clean, thereby defeating the idea of 'set settal' totally. Thirdly, we should all endeavour to sleep under insecticide-treated mosquito bed nets. These bed nets are for free and are distributed by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, so we should grab this opportunity to keep ourselves free from this killer disease.

Finally, if we take the monthly 'set settal' exercise seriously, enforce the anti-littering laws and sleep under insecticide-treated mosquito bed nets, we are assured of a society free of malaria. All these steps are almost cost-free for us, so we should seize this opportunity to save the government millions of dollars, which can be redirected to other sectors for the development of our society.

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