Ghana loses 772.4 million dollars to
malaria yearly … toiling for nothing?
Kweku Asare, ACCRA
Accra, October 20, Ghanadot - Ghana loses 772 million
dollars annually in the form of the estimated cost of
treating the debilitating disease of malaria, a cost that
could provide the country a hydro electric dam and some
change each year.
This represents approximately 5.8 per cent of Ghana’s GDP
Growth using 2006 figures.
Major Courage Quarshigah (RTD), Minister of Health, made the
point in Accra to journalists saying the calculation is
based on the number of reported cases of malaria, a figure
which is even believed to be underestimated.
He explained that the total economic cost is equivalent to
over two times the Ministry of Health’s annual budget, the
total cost of 30,000 4x4 pickups, or the cost of 215,680
metric tones of cocoa, or the cost of around 5,546,000
barrels of oil.
“If we hazard a guess on the estimated economic cost of
other diseases also, I would say that we are all toiling
away in this country for nothing.
“This is because we are simply throwing away the wealth and
fortune we create in this country on such preventable and
avoidable diseases and injuries”, he added.
He emphasized the fact that government could save all the
money on treating this diseases by shifting to the new
health paradigm being implemented through the Regenerative
Health and Nutrition Programme.
The new paradigm titled: “Creating Wealth through Health”
places more emphasis on preventive and promotive health and
sees curative health care as a last resort.
A few months ago Major Quarshigah indicated that our disease
burden was overwhelmingly heavy because we had, as a
country, lost focus on where health is actually produced.
He argued that contrary to what many people expected, health
was not produced in the nation’s health facilities.It is
produced in our homes, market places, lorry stations,
schools, at our work places, on our roads and highways and
in our communities, first as individuals, then as a group.
According to the Minister he found evidence of this type of
living in in Dimona in Israel where African Hebrew
Israelites live healthily through preventive and promotive
lifestyles which saved money and increased productivity.
Great stuff! I will say. Preventive method is the way
forward. Malaria has certain simple ways of attacking people
making their lives miserable, killing millions annually in
both urban and rural areas. It is even estimated that some
urban areas have a higher record of malaria cases than in
There is an interesting twist to all of this any way and
this is it: Government in partnership with some if its
development partners are keenly pursuing the use of
anti-malaria impregnated mosquito nets as a way out of the
Even though, there is some evidence of a slight reduction in
some household numbers, there are people, health officials
who believe that it is not fool proof and the national
figures are still high.
Again some two years ago, AngloGold Ashanti sprayed its
entire Obuasi mine town, spraying every home, structure and
bush or farm. This did help. But malaria still ranks high on
the health bill of the company.
I am of the opinion that we should first clear our cities,
towns and hamlets of stagnant water and introduce a policy
that bans open drains first as a means of actually
eliminating the very source of breeding points for
mosquitoes. Until this is done, we are in the words of the
Minister of Health throwing money away and killing ourselves
in the process.
Kweku Asare, ACCRA, October 20, 2007, Ghanadot.com