By N.Dweh Nimely
Liberia’s Ministry of Health in collaboration with international partners last Monday launched the 2016 National Malaria indicator survey.
Financial assistance for the successful conduct of the 2016 Liberia Malaria Indicator Survey (LMIS) came from US President’s Malaria Initiative Funds through ICF and USAID.
The survey, which was launched by Health Minister Dr. Bernice Dahn, provides data on malaria knowledge, prevention, and treatment, as well as prevalence of malaria and severe anemia among children. Households ITN ranges from 45 percent in South Central region of Liberia to 77 percent in North Central regions.
Forty-two percent of Liberians, the survey reported, have access to ITN; while 39 percent slept under an ITN, the night before the survey.
The survey tested children aged 6-59 months for malaria and anemia, while nearly 45 percent of them test positive for malaria.
Accordingly, the survey reveals that malaria prevalence remains high despite progress and intervention made to prevent the pandemic. Data shows that more than 6 in 10 Liberian households own an insecticide-treated net (ITN), which increased from half of households in the last Liberia Malaria Indicator Survey (LMIS) in 2011.
The survey furthered that more than three quarters of children with sought medical care or treatment, weeks prior to the start of the survey, while coverage of intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy (IPTp) didn’t increase over the last five years.
Dr. Dahn, launching the report from the survey expressed the need for strategies to be redeveloped. She pointed out that the country was moving towards eliminating malaria by 2030.
Indicators from the survey, she explained, were impressive because mothers were taking the treatment for malaria and having safe delivery of over 76 percent.
She added that vaccines needs to move to communities where every child will have access, to prevent infant mortality, while immunization services should include children taking the third dose and not only the first.
USAID Dr. Christine Hershey in remarks lauded the ministry through the National Malaria Control Program for the survey and expressed the need for collaboration and partnership to ensure that bed nets reach every household in the country so that malaria can be eradicated.
For his part, WHO Country Rep Dr. Alex Gassasira also lauded the ministry for the initiative and said the country has the highest number of people with IPS. He noted that despite the challenges, Liberia was making huge efforts.
“I’m impressed with Liberia using evidence and data for action and I am confident of a better result in the short,” Dr. Gassasira stressed.