Malaria Remains Major Public Health Problem in The Gambia, Health Official Says
Despite recent strides in malaria control and prevention, the disease remains a major public health problem in The Gambia, Adam Jagne-Sonko, deputy program manager at The Gambia's National Malaria Control Program, said Tuesday, Panapress/Afriquenligne reports. According to Jagne-Sonko, malaria is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in The Gambia, accounting for more than 40% of hospital visits and for 1,000 to 2,000 deaths annually in the country. In addition, the disease is the primary cause of school and work absenteeism, which affects social and economic development, she said.
Speaking during a press conference organized by NMCP ahead of World Malaria Day, which is scheduled for Saturday, Jagne-Sonko said the occasion would be an opportunity for countries worldwide to share experiences and support collaborative efforts to address malaria. In addition, stakeholders can take advantage of World Malaria Day to generate broad gains in public health and human development, she said. Jagne-Sonko also discussed the importance of monitoring and evaluation at all levels to ensure proper program implementation and identify problems, trends or constraints. Effective monitoring also allows officials to evaluate the impact of interventions and ensure accountability, she said.
According to Jagne-Sonko, The Gambia's malaria control policy "has outlined key intervention areas ranging from malaria case management, malaria in pregnancy, partnership and social mobilization, and surveillance and research, monitoring and evaluation." She said the country recently has undertaken efforts to increase access to effective malaria drugs by providing the artemisinin-based combination therapy Coartem in all public health facilities. In addition, the country has scaled up community mobilization efforts to increase public participation in malaria control initiatives, she said (Panapress/Afriquenligne, 4/21).