Research conducted by the Biotechnology and Nuclear Research Institute (BNARI) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) has revealed extreme resistance to insecticides among Anopheles mosquitoes in the small cocoa-growing village of the Ashanti Region.
The research conducted at Atatam in the Adansi Asokwa District of the Ashanti Region showed that there were two major malaria vectors, one dominating during the dry season and the other during the rainy season. Unlike in many communities, where there is only one transmission season, usually the rainy season.
The Director of BNARI, Dr. Michael Osae, made this known when he shared the findings with the Chief and people of Atatam last Wednesday, at a Malaria Awareness Campaign to commemorate this year's World Malaria Day.
The campaign dubbed, Zero Malaria Draw the line against Malaria, was organized by BNARI, in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Ghana Education Service (GES), and AngloGold Ashanti Malaria Control (AGAMal). As part of the program, the people of Atatam were screened and treated against the malaria parasite.
According to the Director, research was ongoing to proffer alternative tools that could fight the malaria vectors or prevent further resistance to maintain the effectiveness of existing vector control interventions.
"Our research found out that there are two main types of malaria-causing mosquitoes in the Atatam Community - Anopheles gambiae and Anopheles funestus. The populations of both species have high resistance to all classes of insecticides organophosphates, organochlorines, pyrethroids, and carbamates recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for public health use" he added.
He indicated that the super resistance to insecticides may be due to the use of pesticides by the people of Atatam on their cocoa farms, and said the research showed that Atatam was a malaria-endemic community, with a heavy infestation of mosquitoes all year round.
Dr. Osae thanked partners and sponsors as well as the Chief and people of Atatam for supporting the institute's research activities and the malaria awareness campaign.
The Director of Ghana Health Service (GHS) of Adansi Asokwa District, Mr. David Kunta gave some lessons on the behavior of mosquitoes and the dangers it poses to people and added that malaria was on the ascendency in the District.
He revealed that malaria topped all hospital cases by 32.5 percent for the year 2020. "Malaria cases for the first quarter of 2021 also stands at 34 percent as we speak," he added.
Mr. David Kunta, therefore, urged the people to always use an insecticide-treated mosquito net to help prevent mosquito bites and report immediately to the clinic for healthcare whenever they are unwell.
The Social and Behavioural Change Manager of AngloGold Ashanti Malaria Control Limited (AGAMaL), Mrs. Alberta Gordon Bosomtwe, who represented the Program Director, called for a united effort and active involvement of everybody to bring the disease under control.
"The disease, if not brought under control can affect the school performance of pupils, reduce productivity at workplaces through absenteeism, as work-hours are lost, among others," she noted.
The Coordinator for the School Health Education Programme (SHEP) of GES, Mr. Columbus Ewusie, representing the Director of Ghana Education Service (GES) expressed gratitude for the selection of the school in the District for the occasion.
The District is always ready to support such programs that target the health and wellness of its pupils, he added.
As part of the campaign, the people of Atatam were screened for malaria, and those who tested positive treated. In all, 125 people were screened, with 68 (54.4%) testing positive for malaria.
This level of malaria prevalence is far higher than the regional and national prevalence of 15% and 16% respectively.
This calls for concerted efforts from all stakeholders if we must remain on track for the zero-malaria agenda.
Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith