Gold Fields Ghana Limited (Tarkwa Mine) and Abosso Goldfields Limited (AGL- Damang Mine) through the Gold Fields Ghana Foundation has joined the world to celebrate World Malaria Day on the theme ‘Time to deliver zero malaria; invest, innovate implement’.
The event brought together school children, members of the community, health professionals, farmers as well as pregnant women.
They were educated on malaria and its prevention, treatment and use of mosquito nets and mosquito repellent. The company also provided free malaria screening and distributed mosquito repellent at the event.
Speaking at the ceremony at Huniso in the Prestea Huni Valley Municipality of the Western Region, Abdel Razak Yakubu, Executive Secretary of Gold Fields Ghana Foundation, explained that that his outfit is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of people in its host communities.
He said since 2007, the foundation has joined the international community in the fight against malaria.
“As part of Gold Fields’ contribution to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal number 3; which focuses on ensuring healthy life and wellbeing, the foundation has implemented a number of programmes and projects in the health front including the construction of health facilities, health outreach and weekly radio programmes where health professionals educate the public on pertinent health issues among others,” he added.
Mr. Yakubu said a health outreach programme is organized each year to extend health care to the doorsteps of the communities. “Activities undertaken includes health education, basic health screening and administering of medicines. Insecticide treated, long lasting bed nets are also given out to pregnant women and children below age five”.
According to him, the foundation has spent US$2.2 million on healthcare and wellbeing activities at Tarkwa and Damang.
“The Gold Fields Ghana Foundation has spent a total of US$7,000 at both Tarkwa and Damang Mine on this year’s celebration,” he clarified.
The Executive Secretary of the Foundation urged members of the community to find innovative strategies to eradicate malaria. He encouraged all to always get tested before taking malaria medication.
Education on malaria
Nana Yaa Damoah, Queen Mother of Huniso, explained that people get malaria by being bitten by female Anopheles mosquito.
She mentioned some of the symptoms of malaria as chills, fatigue, fever, nausea and severe headache, among others.
“If you experience any of these symptoms, do not go to the pharmacy shop to buy medicine which has not been prescribed by a doctor. Quickly, rush to a health centre for you to be diagnosed of malaria because it could also be a different ailment,” she advised.
She pointed out that children below age five and pregnant women are mostly affected with malaria and encouraged members of the community to always keep their environment clean by desilting choked gutters.
“Let us do our best to bring malaria to the barest minimum in our communities, region and the country as a whole”, she added.
Timothy Kobina Ofori, Health Director of Prestea Huni Valley Municipal said, “the biggest challenge with malaria, has to do with the individual, that is how to prevent it and most of the time depends on how we take care of our surrounding”.
He reiterated that children under age five and pregnant women remain the most susceptible groups globally and so, there are no changes in respect of the vulnerable groups in the region and country at large.
In 2020, he said 12,962 malaria cases were recorded among children under five years, 14,975 in 2021 and then 9,726 cases in 2022 in the Prestea Huni Valley Municipality.
He mentioned that 3,337 pregnant women tested positive for malaria in 2020, 3,498 in 2021 and 2,599 in 2022.
He said since 2021, the World Health Organization recommends broad use of vaccine among children living in regions with moderate to high P. Falciparum malaria transmission.
The vaccine, Mr. Ofori explained has demonstrated to significantly reduce malaria and deadly severe malaria among children.
“Malaria elimination in Prestea Huni Valley Municipality and the country as a whole requires a holistic approach with everyone playing significant roles from the national to the peripheral level. I urged you to sleep in insecticide nets and not to use it has boundary on your farms,” he concluded.