The National Malaria Control Programme Strategic Plan is set to be updated for the period 2015 to 2020. It will see the strengthening of existing policies.
This is according to Director of Vector Control Services (VCS), Reyaud Rahman, who added that dramatic changes have not been made to the updated plan.
As part of the Malaria Control Plan, the National Malaria Oversight Committee (NMOC) was established in 2005. Since then, the NMOC developed the National Malaria Control Programme Strategic Plan for 2008 to 2013. This was later updated for the period 2013 to 2017. Now, the plan is being updated for 2015 to 2020.
Rahman said that the VCS is constantly trying to improve its response in relation to malaria. He said, too, that the Ministry of Health had made innovative steps in dealing with the disease over the years.
“We have not made dramatic changes to the strategic plan but we wanted to solidify what we have; we wanted to add a couple more innovative things to the strategic plan and obviously we need support…We need input because we’d like to formalize and finalize this document,” he said.
He emphasised that the new plan will build from previous achievements made.
“We didn’t need to go invent the wheel; we have lots of countries that are doing great with malaria, so we don’t need to go start anything new…We just need to read, follow the guidelines and see the best practices that other countries are doing. That’s what we’re doing at the vector control,” Rahman said.
He said that the boost will aim to push Guyana to achieving targets set out by the United Nations (UN).
According to Rahman, Guyana’s target will be getting children under five years old and pregnant women to sleep under nets, particularly those in the endemic Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine. Further, he said, the “broad-based” target will be to decrease malaria burden and set malaria numbers backwards in 2015.
“I must say, that if we look at what we’re doing now, we’ve achieved that already,” Rahman opined. He went on to say that Guyana’s progress was not only on track with the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG) but was surpassing them.
“Realistically, when you look at the MDG handbook, we’ve stopped malaria, we’ve cut it dramatically and we’re pulling it back…we’ve already accomplished these things the UN thought we couldn’t,” Rahman said.
Furthermore, the strategic framework for the updated plan includes a number of guiding principles. Some of these, Rahman said, include a multi-sector partnership in the fight against malaria, early diagnosis and prompt treatment, and emphasis on education about malaria.
Rahman emphasised the need for all stakeholders to get involved including non-governmental organisations, the private and public sectors and faith-based organisations.
“Partnerships are extremely critical because…without our stakeholders we really can’t do anything much,” he said.
He added that partnerships allow the VCS to extend its grasp and reach further into affected communities.
Meanwhile, the VCS is continuing to work towards its objectives, Rahman said. Rahman explained that the 2015-2020 strategic plan will have broad objectives. The main thing, he said, is to reduce the social and economic impact of malaria in communities.
Further, he said, the VCS plans on reducing malaria by 70 per cent using the 2010 data. In 2010, he said, there were just over 21,000 malaria cases and with this figure in mind, the 70 per cent goal is almost achieved.
Last year, Guyana recorded fewer than 12,000 malaria cases.
The VCS is also looking to strengthen its local health services, strengthen and create community groups, and strengthen the country’s capacity in addressing challenges amongst vulnerable groups.
“Malaria is preventable and curable; people should not be dying from malaria in Guyana. It’s a huge contributor to poverty in our country…so these are some of the things that mean more to me than just doing a job.
I am more motivated when I know I’m doing something positive for a man’s life and this is one of those diseases that we need to pay attention to,” Rahman said.
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