A NEW invasive mosquito species said to be deadlier than the traditional anopheles mosquitoes, which transmits malaria, has been identified in the country.
“Anopheles stephensi,” first detected on the African continent in 2019, is known to transmit two malaria parasites; Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax, which pose the greatest risk of severe illness and death from malaria.
According to the Ghana Health Service (GHS), the strain was confirmed in March this year, from samples taken in Tuba and Dansoman, all suburbs in the Greater Accra Region, thereby cautioning the public to take immediate steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
“Anopheles Stephensi, can practically breed in almost all sources of water, which is not the traditional breeding sites of the common anopheles species.
It survives in extremely high temperatures during the dry season when malaria transmission usually declines.
It is known to be very invasive, spread fast and adaptive to a myriad of climatic conditions and shown to be resistant to multiple insecticide classes in many locations, posing challenges in its control, a statement issued by the GHS to all Regional Health Directors and sighted by the Ghanaian Times, noted.
In order to mitigate spread of the vector and sustain gains made in the malaria fight, the statement, authorised by the Director-General (D-G), Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, said a national taskforce has been established to advice on strategies to minimise its impact across the country.
He charged Regional and District Health Directors to implement a number of measures including the removal of water collection points in and around homes and communities to minimize breeding sites. The D-G further urged the general public to use insecticide treated nets to protect themselves against indoor mosquito bites, use repellents and wear clothes which protect them against mosquito bites when outside the home.
According to projections by the World Health Organization (WHO), A. stephensi could put an additional 126 million people in Africa at risk of malaria if spread of the mosquito vector is unchecked.
So far, the mosquito specie has been detected in countries including Ethiopia Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria in sub-Saharan Africa.
Meanwhile, Ghana continues to make breakthrough in the fight against malaria as it has become the first African country to approve a new malaria vaccine from the Oxford University, UK. The vaccine, known as R21/ Matrix-M, has been approved for use in children aged between five and 36 months who are at the highest risk of death from the disease.
It becomes the second malaria vaccine to be approved under the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme (MVIP) after MOS-QUIRIX, RIS,S malaria vaccine.
Published by: The Ghanaian Times Newspaper, 14th April,2023, page 11
Author: Times Reporter.