Liberian Government Urged to Fight Malaria
By: Martin C. Benson
A Liberian educator says government's contribution towards the health care delivery system is negligible, therefore the key to abort malaria requires effective system and machineries rather than policy statements and rhetoric.
The president of the Cuttington University College, Dr. Henrique F. Tokpa said malaria abatement program requires more than policy statement and rhetoric, instead with the prevalence of the pandemic in the country, government must do all to find international funding to address all other health problems.
He said, the health care delivery system in Liberia depends almost entirely on NGO and private entities, as the per capital public sector expenditure on health by government is US$0.50 as compared to the World Health Organization (WHO) standard of US$13.06. Speaking over the weekend at the Monrovia City Hall, at programs marking the third celebration of "Africa Malaria Day" sponsored by the Ministry of Health on the topic: "Protect Pregnant Women Against Malaria", Dr. Tokpa advanced several strategies towards the effect.
He said statistics on malaria epidemic is astounding and the key to tackle the problem is educating women, children and the entire public on problems and their solutions and providing free or affordable treatment to affected individuals.
Also speaking at the well-attended ceremony, WHO Regional Director, Dr. Ebrahim M. Samba said the commemoration of this year's Africa Malaria Day helps to remind all stakeholders in the fight against malaria in the region communities, governments, at all levels, NGOs, private sector, development partners and others, adding, "how close we are to 2005 when we must show results against the Abuja targets.
Dr. Samba who spoke through WHO country Representative Dr. Omar Khatib, said this year's theme and slogan draw our attention to the key interventions targeted at the pregnant women and young children.
In his remarks, UNICEF country Representative, Dr. Cyrile Niameogo said malaria poses tremendous challenges to countries experiencing complex emergencies like armed conflict, where illness and death far exceed the rates in stable countries.
"Liberia is in a particularly difficult situation, he interjected population movement, reduced food supply, poor living conditions in temporary camps and in war affected towns increase people's vulnerability to disease and the chances of vector transmission while collapse of infrastructure and destruction of health systems constrain effective implementation of prevention and control measures, Dr. Niameogo added. Health Minister Dr. Peter Coleman said malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis constitute one of the major public health challenges undermining development in poor countries, but in Liberia, the inaccessibility of the rural areas is posing serious humanitarian problem in the country.
He said there are availability of drugs donated by donors, but it is difficult to deliver them owing to the war adding, "hospitals are broken down, wells are not chlorinated, there is o food supply while illness and death toll are rising high.
It is recalled that one the 25th of April, 2000, African Heads of States and governments or their senior Representatives from 44 malaria-endemic countries participated in the first-ever African Summit on Malaria, in Abuja, Nigeria.