Multi-sectoral consultation puts focus on malaria control
Guyana Chronicle
December 19, 2001

THE national strategy for malaria control was reviewed over three days last week during a multi-sectoral consultation at Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown.

It facilitated the major stakeholders, among them business entities, communities at the village and regional levels and governmental and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The objectives of the exercise included to examine the current epidemiological approach to the disease in Guyana, revisit the present plan and craft one to involve all stakeholders and social partners, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported.

It said participants were divided into four groups, each to address one of the stated goals and some of the key areas identified for possible re-examination are the existing legislation, need for a sustainable countrywide surveillance system, the integration of malaria related activities into primary health care delivery and the public awareness programme.

GINA said the representative of one group, Mr. John Shepherd suggested a national audit of the implementation of present policies, arguing that the gap between the management and involved communities is too wide and needs mediation.

He called for strategic networking of non-health organisations, so that awareness could spread and people's behavioural patterns will be positively influenced, assuring primary preventative health care to control the current situation.

Mr. Dyalgie Persaud, from another group, recommended that the Health Ministry develop a programme to incorporate malaria into the range of sicknesses dealt with at Georgetown Public Hospital (GPH) and strengthen the periphery institutions to also offer such treatment.

He said the project should be part of the schools curricula and advised research to monitor the effectiveness of the drugs being used.

His team recommended, too, that community health workers be trained to identify and diagnose the ailment.

Another, headed by Dr. Shamdeo Persaud, concluded that there is necessity for urgently implementing a scheme, which should make an accurate assessment, as well, of the extant malaria situation, so as to be able to enhance the present surveillance.

They said more detailed consultations at community level must be planned to keep the topic alive and the ministry should work on mobilising its limited resources in an efficient manner and take a pro-active lead in courting stakeholders and the general public.

Addressing the closing ceremony, Health Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy commended all who took part for their contribution in which they covered most areas in the draft proposals.

He said a Public Health Bill, which seeks to address existing legislation, is being circulated and welcomed the audit suggestion to also cater for costs.

"Malaria is more than a public health problem and I am glad there could now be an effective national control plan that citizens could buy into and a national report will certainly help to decide our next step," Ramsammy commented.

According to GINA, he said malaria is responsible for between 15 and 35 per cent of all admissions to hospitals at Charity, Bartica, Mabaruma, Moruca and Lethem and 40 and 60 per cent in Mahdia, all in Essequibo County.

The sickness also accounts for more that 50 per cent of the outpatients at those institutions and mortality rates in some range from five to eight per cent.

The minister said the Government spends about $400M on the treatment, almost eight per cent of the national health budget.