Malaria in a slum; SDG 3 a mirage?

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Slum dwellers in Dagombaline are advocating for periodic larvicide to help curb the high incidence of malaria in the slum.

They say their mosquito nets have not been effective because of the nature of their environment.

The National Malaria Control Programme is targeting Malaria Elimination and Zero Malaria deaths by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goal 3

Dagombaline popularly known as Bola Bola is one of the biggest slums in the Ashanti Region.

Congestion is a major challenge here with the wooden structures built closely to each other making movements within the passageways difficult.

Sanitation in this enclave is a major issue. Lack of a toilet facility means ease in the open. Refuse is also dump indiscriminately.

The dwellers here are mostly from the northern part of the country who travel down south to look for jobs to sustain their livelihoods.

The women are mostly head porters known in the local parlance as ‘Kayayes’ with the men settling in the scrap business.

Inhabitants here are prone to incessant mosquito bites.

Those who can’t afford a wooden structure has not option than to sleep in the open. They become prey to mosquitos.

Research has shown pregnant women and newborns living in malaria endemic areas are vulnerable. 

‘ Malaria is our major sickness here especially my two and half year child lamented Sadia Siddique. She said ‘every time we go to Hospital they say we have Malaria.

Another head porter Aisha expressed worry the slum dwellers have never benefitted from the free mosquito nets
‘We don’t have the nets so we use mosquito coil but we still get Malaria. When they share the nets they dont bring some here because we are head porters but we want to tell them we are human beings too so they should bring some of the free nets here’

At Dagombaline, Over the Counter Drug Shops are spotted at vantage points

Anti malaria drugs dominate the drugs sold in these shops.

One of the sellers, Abdul Ganiu revealed patronage of anti Malaria drugs are always on the increase and sometimes run out of stock

Ghana is currently at the Control Phase of Malaria Elimination and Zero Malaria Deaths

The National Malaria Control Programme has instituted a number of interventions which include distribution of long lasting treated mosquitoe nets and laviciding where breeding places of the mosquito larvae are sprayed

But Chairman of the United Kayaye Caucus Abubakar Aminu does not recollect the last time the women were supplied with the nets or their drains sprayed

‘We have never seen distribution of nets or fumigation that they do we have never seen some before they should pay serious attention to this place’

At Ahwiam Clinic which is situated near the slum, Medical Director Dr Gabriel Boakye mentioned Malaria as one of the leading OPD cases with some patients coming from the slum

He wants a total reengineering of the place as measure in reducing the Malaria cases from the community

‘Definitely some of the cases recorded at our clinic here are from the slum but the National Malaria Control Programme cannot eradicate malaria completely in the slum because that place needs reengineering with drains and improved living conditions’ Dr Boakye emphasised

He posited that so long as the slum dwellers continue to live in those insanitary conditions Malaria will continue to be a problem

Asokore Mampong Municipal Health Director stated confirmed Malaria cases have since 2018 seen a decline from 17,000 to 3000 in 2020

This he believes is as a result of intensified inventions such as distribution of the mosquito nets and selective laviciding

‘We do our best to do spraying periodically; we demarcated about 17 sites where there are lots of slums and stagnant water to kill the larvae’

As Ghana through the National Malaria Control Programme strategies to eliminate Malaria and attain zero Malaria deaths in conformity with SDG3 which aims to end the epidemic of AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria by 2030 more focus should be targeted at the slums across the country

By Beatrice Spio Garbrah||Ghana

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