Some Chiefs in the Upper East Region have warned that they would institute bye-laws to punish community members who refuse to use the Long Lasting Insecticide-treated Nets (LLINs) that have been given them.
In 2012, UNICEF with support from DFID and through the Ghana Health Service (GHS) did an extensive distribution of LLINs but research done later indicated that most households in the region where the LLINs were distributed were not using them for the intended purpose but rather using them to cover their hencoops and kraals.
The Chiefs who issued the warning during an orientation programme for traditional and religious leaders held at separate functions in Bolga, Bongo, Kassena- Nankana Municipal and Kassena Nankan West, Nabdam and Talensi districts, said they were surprised that instead of sleeping under the nets to help prevent malaria, some community members were misusing them.
The orientation programme, organized by the Institute of Social Research and Development(ISRAD) , a Non-Governmental Organization in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service with support from the UKAID, attracted 146 chiefs and religious leaders from forty-five communities in six Districts namely Bolgatanga , Bongo, Kassena-Nankana Municipal, Kasseena-Nankana West , Nabdam and the Talensi Districts .
The Paramount Chief of the Bongo Traditional area, Naba Baba Salifu Alleemyarum and the Chief of Kongo, Sapaat Naab D. D. Dong, stressed that as custodians of the land and people, it was their duty to ensure that their people are healthy to work to promote the socio-economic development of the communities.
Speaking at the forum, the Regional Coordinator of ISRAD, Mr Abdul-Razark Issah, observed that as custodians and mouth piece of the people they could influence them to ensure that the beneficiary communities slept under the nets to help prevent malaria related deaths.
He announced that plans were under way to organise similar fora in the other districts namely Builsa North and South, Pusiga, Garu-Tempane, Binduri and Bawku Municipal and Bawku West District all aimed at helping to achieve the national coverage of 75 per cent.
Mr Abdul-Razak who explained that the rational of the programme was also to ensure that people went through the Microscope or Rapid Diagnostic Tests(RDTs) before malaria treatment, impressed upon the stakeholders to use their bigger platforms to propagate the message and to ensure that people patronized the project.
He hinted that plans were far advanced to distribute more of the LLINs by GHS, as such there was the need for beneficiary community members to acquire the requisite knowledge and information on the importance of using LLINs, and stressed the need to ensure that beneficiary communities sleep under the nets to achieve the intended purposes.
The stakeholders, who pledged to help promote the use of the LLINs, suggested that in distributing the net this time around, it should not only be targeted at the pregnant women and children under five years, but to all vulnerable persons.
The District Focal Persons of Malaria from the respective districts, indicated that due to several malaria interventions such as the use of RDTs, distribution of the LLINs and Indoor residual spraying by the GHS, ISRAD and other partners the incidence of malaria had reduced drastically.
The Focal Persons demonstrated on how to use the net and also provide RDTs services to the stakeholders and community members.