Insecticide resistance is a major threat to the gains made in malaria vector control, Prof. Kwadwo Ansah Koram, immediate past Director of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), University of Ghana, has said.
The term insecticide resistance is termed as the ability of an insect to withstand the effects of an insecticide by becoming resistant to its toxic effects by means of natural selection and changes.
Prof Koram noted that with regards to malaria control and elimination, spraying was being done and also the nets had insecticides which knocks off the vectors, however, currently when these vectors were exposed to these drugs they still fly around, implying they have had resistance to insecticides.
“There is a need to look for new insecticides, some of the studies my colleagues are doing show that some of the changes in the vector is due to the fact that it is able to produce an enzyme which decreases the insecticide (in its body); so we are also having a chemical which will then not allow the insects to degrade the parasites,” he added.
Prof Koram said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Accra, on the sidelines of a Public Lecture on the theme “Contributions of NMIMR towards Malaria Control and Elimination in Ghana”.
The Public Lecture was part of activities lined up to mark NMIMR’s 40th Anniversary Celebration on the theme “Sustaining Global Health Gains through Partnerships in Biomedical Research”.
Other activities to mark the 40 Anniversary include a Stakeholder Engagement Workshop, Public Engagement, International Research Conference, and a thanksgiving service.
Prof Koram underscored the need to have a collaborative effort in eliminating malaria, recounting that, when China decided to eliminate malaria it was not the goal of the Ministry of Health (MoH) only but all stakeholders.
He said currently in Ghana that agenda appeared to be on the shoulders of few stakeholders particularly the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service, but this had to be a decision taken by all, and backed with the required funding.
“Basically we need to have a totality of work; funding, research such as drug discovery with the herbal medicines, you need to have a programme in that direction too; some of the plants do work and we need to find out”.
Prof Koram said the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) does the distribution of nets and spraying as well, making sure the drugs were working and currently 20 per cent of those who came with fever have parasites.
He stated that the NMCP was working with Noguchi to make sure those who got treated were actually those who had the parasites.
Touching on the malaria vaccines being piloted, he noted that the vaccines did not give a 100 per cent protection however there was a 40 to 50 per cent protection, as it prevented some diseases in children.
He said the study was not done to look at its effect on mortality, even though it was one of the questions raised whether this would prevent deaths; the study was done to show its effect, therefore, the piloting was trying to answer such questions.
Dr Keziah L. Malm, Programmes Manager of NMCP, who chaired the occasion, said efforts in fighting malaria had being useful and that it had been very collaborative.
She urged the public to support NMCP’s strategies, as available interventions had proven to work.