Free insecticide treated nets reduce malaria incidence in Ghana

Nationwide malaria incidence in Ghana dropped last year, in part, because of the successful distribution of free, long-lasting insecticide treated nets, according to a Ministry of Health official.

Kwame Gapkey, the communications officer of the Ministry of Health's National Malaria Control Program, said patient deaths dropped from 3,259 in 2011 to 2,815 in 2012. Last year, Ghana attempted to distribute two-person, long-lasting insecticide treated nets to cover 24 million of the country's population, the Ghana News Agency reports.

According to the Ghana Health Service, the NCMP has the objectives of ensuring 100 percent of Ghanian households own at least one ITN, 80 percent of the general population sleep under ITNs and 85 percent of children under five and pregnant women sleep under ITNs. The NCMP plans to achieve the objectives by scaling up access to the nets.

Philanthropist Bill Gates visited Ghana last week to examine the country's healthcare system, particularly the success of its immunization program. He said the country's immunization program worked well because of its rigorous data gathering and analysis, community outreach, accountability at the district level and integration into the health system, Ghana Business News reports.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, malaria caused 216 million clinical episodes in 2010 and approximately 655,000 deaths. Approximately 3.3 billion people live in areas at risk of transmitting malaria.