25 April 2014

Gambia: Stand Up Against Malaria


The highest incidence of malaria in the country is recorded during the peak of the rainy season. It is imperative to note that a healthy and decent environment is not ordained from heaven; it is created by a healthy and decent people and not through intentions but by actions.

Our women and children would continue to be hostages of malaria if people, particularly the youth, make no concerted effort to ensure that our environments are kept clean, tidy and conducive for human habitation at all times. The development of the country cannot be accomplished without a healthy populace. Only a healthy person is an asset to the state as it is only he who can meaningfully contribute to the socio-economic transformation of society. The government doubtless is exhausting all efforts to address the health needs of the country.

The Operation Clean the nation, an establishment of the National Environment Agency and the many public health regulations in force today, are all part of a wider plan of the state to ensuring that no Gambian becomes a perpetual friend of the hospital. This ambition would however relegate to being wishful thinking if the people who are the sole beneficiaries of the outcomes of the initiatives of the state take no concrete steps to complement the efforts of the government. We should be alarmed by the fact that in Africa today, malaria is understood to be both a disease of poverty and a cause of poverty. Annual economic growth in countries with high malaria transmission has historically been lower than in countries without malaria.

Economists believe that malaria is responsible for a growth penalty of up to 1.3%% per year in some African countries. When compounded over the years, this penalty leads to substantial differences in GDP between countries with and without malaria and severely restrains the economic growth of the entire region. Malaria also has a direct impact on Africa's human resources. Not only does malaria result in loss of life and lost productivity due to illness and premature death, it also hampers children's schooling and social development through both absenteeism and permanent neurological and other damage associated with severe episodes of the disease.

Our youth should therefore wake up and complement efforts of the government in making the country a healthy and wealthy nation.

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