The War ECOWAS Must Win

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Ayittey (L), assisted by Ouédraogo, unveils the construction of Bio-Larvicide production factory in Ghana
Ayittey (L), assisted by Ouédraogo, unveils the construction of Bio-Larvicide production factory in Ghana

The ground-breaking ceremony of the third biolarvicide factory to be constructed by ECOWAS in Accra, Ghana, raises hope of the leaders’ resolve to eliminate malaria in the sub-region

ECOWAS leaders are determined to eliminate malaria from the region in order to free the enormous resources currently expended on battling the scourge for socio-economic development, John Dramani Mahama, President of Ghana, has said. The Ghanaian president noted that in many parts of the world where malaria has been eradicated, even before the development of new and potent drugs, one of the key strategies adopted was effective vector control.  Mahama’s stated this resolve in his address at the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of a biolarvicide factory in line with ECOWAS Malaria Elimination Campaign in Accra, Ghana, on Tuesday, August 6.

In sub-Saharan Africa, “malaria stands between us and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. This is particularly so because of the devastating effects of malaria on our children’s educational efforts and the life of pregnant women,”  Mahama noted in the address delivered by Sherry Ayittey, Ghana’s health minister, to a packed audience at the Accra International Conference Centre.

He described the building of the factory, one of the three earmarked for the region under a Tripartite Agreement by ECOWAS, Cuba and Venezuela, to strengthen the vector control component of the regional malaria elimination strategy, as a “landmark investment” in moving towards the realisation of “improving our capacity to control malaria and eventually eradicate it.”

Apart from thousands of deaths, particularly of children under five years old and pregnant women, Malaria costs Africa more than $12 billion annually through sickness and lost productivity, with Ghana alone bearing $730 million of the economic burden while about 13 percent of all recorded deaths in the country are attributed to malaria.

Group photograph of Dignitaries after the Ground Breaking ceremony. Accra
Group photograph of Dignitaries after the Ground Breaking ceremony. Accra

Biolarvicide is a substance that kills mosquitoes, the malaria vectors at their larvae development stage thereby reducing their bites and transmission of malaria. Apart from the production of biolarvicides against malaria, the factories will also produce bio-fertilizer to boost agricultural productivity and create jobs with the attendant socio-economic benefits to the host countries and the region at large.

In his address, Kadré Desire Ouédraogo, the president of the ECOWAS Commission, said the Accra ceremony, the third and last in a series following those in Cote d’Ivoire and Port Harcourt, Nigeria, “gives concrete expression to our leaders’ resolve and determination to eliminate malaria from the poor region” since the launch of the Campaign in Accra in July 2011. He paid glowing tributes to his two predecessors Mohamed Ibn Chambas and Ambassador James Victor Gbeho “for giving a very high profile to the malaria elimination programme among our activities at the ECOWAS Commission.”

The launch of the construction of the biolarvicide factory, the president said: “marks an important step towards the realisation of our partnership and commitment,” adding that the Malaria Elimination Campaign “is a war we must fight and win.”

Constance Bart-Plange, manager of Ghana Malaria Control Programme, made a presentation on the country’s anti-malaria policy and activities, while Mariane Ngoulla, the ECOWAS special adviser on health, traced the background to the regional campaign, noting that if other parts of the world could do it, “Africa and West Africa must fight and win the war against malaria.”

In a goodwill message on the occasion chaired by Prof. Kofi Awonor, Ghana’s celebrated poet, author and former chairman of the national council of state, WHO representative, Idrissa Sow, said the UN agency “supports vector control measures of any kind against malaria-transmitting mosquitoes.”

In their speeches, Tomas Mendez, Chargé d’Affaires of the Cuban Embassy in Ghana, and his Venezuelan counterpart in Benin, Oscar Cabello, reaffirmed their countries’ total commitment and determination to ensure the success of the regional campaign under the tripartite accord. In his vote of thanks, Toga McIntosh, vice president of the ECOWAS Commission,  stressed the need for all the partners in the malaria elimination campaign to back their words with concrete actions.

Highlights of the occasion, which was also attended by Joe Oteng Adjei, Ghana’s environment, science and technology minister, was the symbolic ground breaking with the unveiling of a plaque by Ayittey and Ouédraogo, for the construction of the factory followed by an exhibition on malaria control and elimination in Ghana. The country’s cultural group Abibigoromah also dramatized the human sufferings caused by malaria and projected vector control as a key component of an integrated approach to malaria elimination strategy.

The ground breaking event, which brought together health experts from within and outside the ECOWAS region, was preceded by a tripartite experts working group meeting by ECOWAS, Cuba and Venezuela on Monday, in the Ghanaian capital. The participants, after discussing among others things, the feasibility study; cost build up and investment, architecture of the project as well as the forthcoming 4th high-level partners’ meeting in Venezuela, agreed on a roadmap for the regional campaign to be presented to ECOWAS authorities for approval.

— Aug. 19, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

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