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Distributing insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) to selected classes in primary schools has helped Ghana sustain high ITN coverage and improved malaria prevention nationwide. On May 22, 2017, Ghana launched the fourth school-based ITN distribution campaign in Teshie-Accra. Presiding over the launch, and demonstrating their great support for malaria prevention and ITN distribution, were the Deputy Minister of Health, the Honorary Tina Mensah; the U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, H.E. Robert P. Jackson; the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Director, Dr. Owen Laws Kaluwa; and the Deputy Director General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Gloria Quansah Asare.
This year’s campaign will distribute 1.6 million ITNs to children in primary school grades 2 and 6, in 23,000 public and private primary schools, in 9 out of the 10 regions of Ghana. The Hon. Tina Mensah called on all stakeholders to ensure that children receive and use their ITNs to prevent malaria.
In his remarks, the H.E. Ambassador, Robert P. Jackson, challenged school children and all Ghanaians to sleep under their nets every night and, also, to take very good care of the nets. He reiterated that the U.S. Government, through the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), would continue to stand by its partner countries, including Ghana, in their goal to stop malaria from obstructing their development efforts.
On her part, the manager of the Ghana National Malaria Control Program, Dr. Constance Bart-Plange, speaking directly to the school children, reminded them that preventing malaria can help them achieve their dreams to become doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers, engineers, and accountants. She called on all children and all families to regard the ITN as their best friend, sleep under it every night, wash it when it gets dirty, and sew up any holes.
The 2017 campaign launch was preceded by a march of approximately 1,000 school children carrying messages on placards through the township of Teshie, Accra that read:
- Mosquitoes fear my net; I am malaria free!
- Mosquitoes are dangerous; stop them with your treated bed net!
- Be safe from malaria. The ITN is your protector!
- Malaria can kill. Sleep under your net and be safe!
Mr. Emmanuel Fiagbey, the Chief of Party of the VectorWorks Ghana Project, introduced the audience to the 24-member national distribution team comprised of officers from the National Malaria Control Program, School Health Education Program of the Ghana Education Service, PMI-funded VectorWorks Project, and the USAID Procurement and Supply Management (PSM) Project. He called on the team members to work collaboratively with the regional and district health and education teams in their assigned regions to ensure the security of the ITNs and their fair and equitable distribution to the school children.
Participating in the event were more than 1,500 people, including chiefs, queen mothers, health and education officials, the people of Teshie- Accra, teachers, and school children.
The President of the Greater Accra Regional House of Chiefs, His Majesty, Nii Okwei Kinka Dowuona VI, who chaired the launch event, pledged the support of all traditional rulers in the fight against malaria, asserting: “malaria has stayed far too long with us in Ghana and deserves to be kicked out now and forever. No one should be getting sick from malaria; neither should anyone die of it when sleeping under a bet net can prevent it.”