Critical health service delivery continues to suffer in most parts of the country since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
Though situations have improved in some cases in recent times, the misconceptions relating to the pandemic remains a drawback to the successful implementation of health programmes.
In the case of the Biakoye District of the newly created Oti region, parents are said to be hesitant in availing their children to be given the Sulfadoxine Pyrimethamine and Amodiaquine as part of the Seasonal Malaria Chemo Prevention exercise due to Covid-19 misconceptions.
The Seasonal Malaria Chemo Prevention programme began in the Biakoye District in July 2021.
The programme is to administer the anti-malaria drug Sulfadoxine Pyrimethamine and Amodiaquine to children between 3months up to age 5.
In each of the four rounds of the exercise, a child is expected to be given three different doses of the anti-malaria drug.
But the exercise in the Biakoye District has been hit with the refusal of parents to allow their children to take the medication, most especially at the start of the campaign due to misconceptions relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We did the first round of the SMC in July and have since began the second round this month of August but during the first round, we encountered some challenges -the challenges including misconceptions relating to Covid-19. Some of the parents think the medicine is for Covid-19 so there was a lot of refusal in the system. They would not allow their children to take the vaccine and that is equally affecting the second round but we continue to educate them to accept the drugs due to the importance of it,” Rose Ayibor, Malaria Focal Person for Biakoye told the news team.
According to Madam Rose Ayibor, the misconceptions among other constraints has caused the District to miss out on its targeted coverage in the first round.
She said, “During the round one, as a district, though our target was 85 per cent coverage we were only able to get 65.4 per cent, so Covid-19 really affected the exercise but during the round two, we are hopeful that the numbers will increase because we have since moved to the communities to intensify our education.”
Some parents on the other hand would not allow their children to take the drug again due to side reactions the children had after taking part in the first round of the SMC.
That notwithstanding, some other parents are allowing their children to take up the medication and are encouraging the public to ignore the fears.
Adzo Kpattah, a mother of two, told Starr News’ Faisel Abdul-Iddrisu that, “I don’t think the drug is a bad drug. When my child first took it, she had some reactions but she’s fine. I encourage all mothers to allow their children take the drug to prevent them from getting malaria.”
For the over-bank (hard-to-reach) communities health officials say service delivery in all cases is becoming difficult by the day since they have to rely on public canoes to cross the Volta lake so as to be able to access the communities.
These canoes are said not to be available every day except on market days and come with a huge cost for the health officials.
Commenting further on the challenges, the Biakoye District Director of Health, Rita Amawurapa appealed to the government of Ghana and the general public to provide them with a boat that would be used by health service providers as at when it is necessary to cross the Volta lake.
The Biakoye District between January to July 2021 has recorded 5,240 confirmed cases of malaria among children between the targeted age group.
In the whole of 2020, the district recorded 13,301 cases of malaria but health officials in the district say with the implementation of the RTSS malaria vaccine and the SMC there will be a drastic decline in the cases by end of the year 2021.