District Health Director of Krachi West District in the Oti Region Victor Ahiaba has said the outbreak of the novel COVID-19 virus did not hinder their resolve to administer critically needed vaccines, including the malaria vaccine, to children.
He opined that despite the many restrictions that came with the COVID-19 virus including social distancing, the District Health Directorate devised means of giving out critically needed vaccines to support child growth and their wellbeing.
The Krachi West District Health Director Victor Ahiaba narrated that, “because of the fear of the virus some of our mothers stop visiting the facilities and since our personnel were given PPEs we decided that we should be meeting them in smaller groups in their various communities”.
While speaking in an interview with Edward A. Ken-Zorre, he added that “we also deployed health personnel into people’s homes. For mothers that don’t turn up and are due for a particular vaccine we’ll ask a nurse to follow up with the vaccine. So, in the midst of COVID, service delivery is not disrupted and will continue to be so”.
Situated along Volta Lake, the Krachi West District is one of the 42 districts across Ghana benefiting from the pilot of the malaria vaccine in Ghana, and Victor Ahiaba has described as successful the rollout of the vaccine in the district.
While an assessment of the vaccine’s impact on malaria-related illness and death is still being assessed, he is of the belief that the vaccine has helped in drastically reducing the number of malaria cases within the district especially in children under 5 years.
He noted that malaria cases have generally reduced in the 2020 year under review where all suspected malaria cases were tested before giving treatment.
He revealed that 16,761 general cases of malaria were recorded in the year 2020 as against 23,452 cases in 2019. For Children below 5 years, he indicated that there was a major reduction in cases where only 5,087 cases were recorded at the OPD in 2020 as against 7,319 in 2019.
“In terms of malaria deaths under five-years, in 2020 we’ve recorded none so comparing the cases before the implementation of the vaccine especially among the age group taking the vaccine, I think there is a reduction in cases and in a way, it can be attributed to the help of the vaccine” the district health director explained.
Considering that many parts of the Krachi West District are island communities, the district is adopting several other interventions in fighting malaria as revealed by the District Health Director, Victor Ahiaba.
“For instance, distribution of bed nets, we’ll soon start the mass distribution among the population and children that are 18months and above we give them bed nets and also school kids, that’s one of the channels that is used to give out the bed nets”.
“During the child welfare clinic, we give the mothers education on how to prevent malaria; especially sleeping under the treated bed nets and disposing unwanted water”.
Victor Ahiaba added that, “sometimes we organize community durbars to educate both the men and women on malaria and other preventable diseases and the radio education is also one of our major interventions which we do almost every week”.
Story by: Edward A. Ken-Zorre.