In pursuit of the Zero Malaria agenda for the nation, the Ministry of Health, and Ghana Health Service, with support from partners, have unveiled the National Malaria Elimination Strategic Plan (NMESP) 2024–2028. Under the theme “Zero malaria starts now: Launching Ghana’s path to elimination,” the four-year plan not only outlines the achievements made thus far but also underscores the interventions to be integrated with ongoing efforts for the realization of a malaria-free Ghana. 

In a speech read on behalf of H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo by Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the Presidential Advisor on Health, He emphasized the theme as a call to amplify ongoing national efforts towards a malaria-free country, rallying comprehensive support and resources despite prevailing challenges.

Dr. Nsiah-Asare urged collective action to elevate malaria on health and developmental agendas, expressing optimism about what could be achieved through immediate collaboration. He affirmed the government’s unwavering commitment to spearhead malaria elimination in Ghana. Stressing the importance of private partnerships alongside government support, he underscored their critical role in realizing the malaria elimination goal and strengthening health systems.

 Dr. Nsiah-Asare highlighted the difficulty, if not impossibility, of achieving the goals and objectives without adequate resources. He commended the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health for birthing the Parliamentary Caucus for Malaria, acknowledging their strong advocacy, which resulted in a commitment for 2 out of the 18 districts designated for indoor residual spraying. He appealed, especially to domestic partners, to invest in vector control interventions in high-burden districts, pledging to lead the advocacy for resources in the remaining districts.

During his address, Hon. Kwaku Agyemang Manu, the Minister for Health, highlighted that the NMESP 2024–2028 for Ghana remains the principal document guiding efforts toward malaria elimination. He emphasized its role in steering the course toward a malaria-free Ghana, portraying the document as a potent declaration of intent, a call to unite for collective action, and a commitment to a healthier future for generations. The minister sought the backing of all stakeholders in executing the strategy and expressed gratitude for their participation in the launch event.

The WHO Multi-Country Assignment Officer for Ghana, Liberia, Gambia, and Sierra Leone, Dr. Sharmila Lareef, speaking on behalf of Prof. Francis Kasolo, WHO Country Representative, commended Ghana’s efforts in malaria elimination, noting significant progress in the fight against malaria over the years.

Dr. Lareef stated that the WHO has developed manuals and self-assessment tools to assist countries in evaluating their preparedness for embarking on malaria elimination. 

“I am pleased to report that Ghana has already undertaken the malaria elimination self-assessment. The findings, coupled with the program review, have informed this inaugural elimination strategy being launched today”, she stressed.

She further highlighted the WHO’s support to Ghana in conducting malaria risk and epidemiological stratification at both national and sub-national levels. This process, she said, will aid in defining the disease burden in each zone of the country and inform necessary interventions to alleviate the burden and propel the nation toward elimination. She affirmed the WHO’s commitment to the elimination strategy, emphasizing ongoing technical assistance to help Ghana achieve its goals and targets for malaria elimination.

The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, asserted in his statement that the declining malaria morbidity and mortality in recent years provide confidence in the effectiveness of interventions and instill hope for elimination through enhanced and sustained efforts. He announced the government’s intention to establish two committees to propel the elimination agenda: the Independent National Malaria Oversight Committee (INMOC) and the National Malaria Elimination Technical Coordinating Committee (NMETCC). The former’s mandate is to oversee and provide strategic direction for malaria elimination in Ghana through a coordinated and comprehensive national approach. The committee will handle leadership, governance, resource mobilization, and advocacy. The latter will offer advisory and technical support to the oversight committee, including adapting WHO guidelines and policies for the country. Both committees will comprise members from the private sector, relevant agencies, partners, religious and traditional organizations.

Dr. Kuma-Aboagye concluded with highlights on malaria’s economic burden on households, the health system, and the national economy. He expressed the government’s desire for the committees to work diligently in supporting the Ghana Health Service and partners to eliminate the disease.

In her presentation on the New Malaria Elimination Strategy, Dr. Keziah Malm, Programme Manager of the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP), provided an overview of malaria prevalence in the country. She emphasized the success of certain countries in eliminating malaria and detailed the program’s evolution following parliamentary approval to shift from malaria control to elimination. Dr. Malm outlined the primary goals of the strategic plan launched, aiming for a 90% reduction in malaria mortality by 2028, a 50% decrease in malaria case incidence by the same year, and the eradication of malaria in 21 districts with very low malaria burdens.

Key interventions outlined in the strategic plan include expanding indoor residual spraying coverage, extending the age bracket and duration of the Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention campaign, introducing Intermittent Preventive Treatment of malaria in school children (IPTsc), implementing Mass Drug Administration, single low dose primaquine administration, and enhancing epidemiological surveillance for both reactive and active case detection and response, among other measures.

Malaria elimination is the interruption of local transmission within a geographical area because of deliberate activities put in place and with continuous measures to prevent re-establishment.