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ECOWAS war against malaria enters crucial stage

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The ECOWAS war against malaria will achieve a major milestone on ECOWAS Day, 28th May 2014 with the official launch of the application of anti-mosquito biolarvicide product during a ceremony at Aflao on the Ghana-Togo border, involving the armed forces of the region, National Malaria Progamme Managers and representatives of civil society organizations, among others.

Lending total support to the strong participation of the military in the regional malaria elimination campaign and especially the official launch of biolarvicide application, participants of the just-ended military-civilian Training of Trainers Workshop in Accra, Ghana, recommended that the region’s armed forces should play a key role in the process in collaboration with the malaria control programmes of Member States, civil society and the communities.

They adopted “Together we must fight, together we must win,” as a slogan to rally mass support for the campaign which should be anchored on a well-coordinated cross-border collaboration, monitoring and evaluation with a continuous multi-sectoral approach supported by a Task Force in each country.
The participants, who also undertook a field visit to a slum in Great Accra area, for practical knowledge and experience on the application of biolarvicides with the support of officials of Labiofam/Cuba, emphasized the need for community mobilization and ownership of the campaign accompanied by behavior change communication which should also address sanitation and environmental management.

Every country must also organize periodic seminars on sensitization for malaria elimination, using biolarvicide application, they further recommended.
To ensure sustainability and resounding success of the campaign, the 12-16 May 2014 workshop, which was attended by representatives of the armed forces of the 15 ECOWAS Member States, as well as health, environment and social communication experts, the Cuban Ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Jorge Lefebre Nicholas and representatives of civil society organizations including the Network of African Women Farmers, ROPPA, and Labiofam/Cuba, also called for the allocation of adequate funds with relevant activities built into the national budgets of the national armed forces.

To this end, the participants endorsed the proposed introduction of Awards for the most effective anti-malaria programme, cleanest cities, communities, military barracks and involvement of youth/children women and environmental sanitation activities.

While opening the workshop, the Chairman of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff (CCDS) and Ghana’s Chief of Defence Staff, Vice Admiral Mathew Quashie affirmed the unqualified support of the region’s military for the ECOWAS war against Malaria.

He told the participants that one emerging preventive intervention which holds great promise for malaria elimination in West Africa is the use of biolarvicides, biological insecticides that “are the most proven, most widely used and most successful of the known biological pesticides.”

In her address, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, represented by the Chief of Staff, ECOWAS Standby Force, Brig.-Gen. Hassan Lai, said the regional workshop on train-the-trainers of the military is one in a series to prepare the armed forces ahead of the launch of the simultaneous application of biolarvicides on the ECOWAS Day.

“The efficacy of the use of biolarvicides,” the Commissioner explained, “is based on a simultaneous application for which the participation of the armed forces is a central pillar and a prerequisite for success as has been seen in countries such as the United States.”

In her presentation, the Health Adviser to the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Mariane Ngoulla described the regional Malaria Elimination Campaign as “a war, we can and must win for the benefit of the present and future generations of Africa.”

Cuba and Venezuela are supporting the ECOWAS malaria elimination campaign under a Tripartite Agreement for the construction of three biolarvicide factories in Cote, d’Ivoire, Ghana and Port Harcourt, Nigeria to make the product readily available for the mass application across the region.