The University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho under the leadership of the Centre for Malaria Research, Institute of Health Research-UHAS marked the World Malaria day on Thursday, April 25, 2019 at the University Council Chamber. The theme for the 2019 World Malaria Day which was “Zero Malaria starts with me” is a grassroots campaign that emphasizes country ownership and community empowerment of malaria prevention and care. The day also highlighted the need for sustained investment and political commitment for Malaria prevention, control and elimination.
In her welcome address, Professor Evelyn Ansah, Director, Centre for Malaria Research, UHAS stated that, there is a dual purpose for the commemoration of the World Malaria Day in UHAS. Firstly, Ghana is on the verge of making history as one of the first three (3) countries to deploy the Malaria vaccine and also plays a major role in the vaccine trial. Secondly, UHAS is part of history in partaking in the evaluation of the Pilot Implementation of the Malaria vaccine and Volta Region is equally part of the regions selected to partake in the trial.
The Chairman of the occasion, Professor Margaret Gyapong in her initial remarks was elated about the 2019 World Malaria Day celebration. She mentioned that, renowned scientists who have done research works in the past on Malaria including herself, Professor Fred Newton Binka, Professor Evelyn Ansah and Professor Owusu Adjei are all part of UHAS management currently. Professor Margaret Gyapong also intimated that, many of their research findings have informed decisions in the prevention, control and elimination of Malaria.
A post graduate student of the School of Public Health-UHAS, Master Jonathan Gyamani also presented a research work and findings he discovered on Malaria. This research was carried out at the Hohoe and Jasikan government hospitals respectively on “Pre and Post Consultation Testing for Malaria and Clinician’s Adherence to results in Children under 5 in the Northern Volta”. He said, from the study, it was realized that, self-medication and over the counter medicines are patronized by people due to the time spent in hospitals for diagnosis and treatment of Malaria. As part of recommendations after the study, Master Gyamani recommended that, there must be the establishment of RDT (Rapid Diagnostic Test) corners at Out Patient Departments (OPD) to test patients with symptoms of Malaria before they consult with Clinicians in order to save time.
The invited guest for the World Malaria Day event at UHAS, Mr. Anthony Pani, EPI Programme Officer from the Volta Regional Health Directorate also took his turn to brief the gathering on the Pilot Implementation of the Malaria Vaccine. According to him, there has been over 30 years research on Malaria in Africa thus, from 1984-2015 and Ghana had a strong basis to pilot the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Program due to the prevalence of the disease in Ghana. Mr. Pani mentioned that, the basic objective of the Pilot programme is to access the feasibility, safety and impact of the new vaccine in the context of routine use alongside other currently recommended Malaria control measures.
Professor Fred Newton Binka, Former Vice Chancellor of UHAS and a Malaria expert gave a Quantitative Evaluation of the RTS (Mosquirix) Malaria Vaccine. He mentioned that, the Evaluation team is made up of 7 teams from research centers and institutions across Ghana.
He said, in assessment, the team looked at the Evaluation, Safety and Mortality Modules. Under the Evaluation module, they looked at the feasibility of the program; the Safety module looked at the incidence of Meningitis and Cerebral Malaria in the children and the Mortality module dealt with the effect of the routine delivery.
A Qualitative Evaluation-Health Utilization Study presentation was delivered by Professor Evelyn Ansah. She stated that UHAS is leading the Qualitative Evaluation and the Institute of Health Research is responsible for the Volta Regional site of the Pilot Implementation program likewise KNUST and UNER for the Brong Ahafo region and UCC for the Central Region. She said the IHR will deploy its research assistants who will live and immense themselves into the 3 selected communities for the programme to study and evaluate how the people understand the whole Pilot Implementation process.
In her closing remarks, the Chairperson of the ceremony, Professor Margaret appreciated persons who attended the program to mark the World Malaria Day in UHAS. She said, scientists in UHAS who are interested in works done on Malaria should always gather information on their own in order to understand issues and also be confident enough to face issues so as to defeat the politics in science.