Malaria has been a major health challenge in Ghana for many years, with millions of cases reported annually. The disease is caused by the Plasmodium parasite, which is transmitted through the bite of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malaria is responsible for over 10,000 deaths in Ghana each year, making it one of the leading causes of mortality in the country.

The high burden of malaria in Ghana has prompted the government and various stakeholders to implement several strategies to combat the disease. These strategies include the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying, and the use of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) as the first-line treatment for uncomplicated malaria.

However, the increasing emergence of drug-resistant parasites has posed a significant challenge to the effectiveness of traditional malaria treatments in Ghana. This has led to a growing interest in the development and deployment of new drug therapies to improve the management and control of the disease.

One such new drug therapy is the use of tafenoquine, a long-acting medication that has recently been approved for the radical cure of Plasmodium vivax malaria. Tafenoquine has shown promise in clinical trials for its ability to effectively clear the dormant liver stages of the parasite, which are responsible for relapses of the disease. Its approval in Ghana could significantly improve the treatment of Plasmodium vivax malaria, a less common but still significant cause of the disease in the country.

Another innovative approach is the use of combination therapies that target multiple stages of the malaria parasite’s life cycle. These include drugs that not only kill the blood stages of the parasite but also prevent its transmission to mosquitoes. By targeting different aspects of the parasite’s biology, these combination therapies could potentially overcome drug resistance and improve treatment outcomes in Ghana.

Furthermore, advancements in vaccine development have also shown promise in the fight against malaria. The RTS,S/AS01 vaccine, also known as Mosquirix, has been licensed for use in Ghana as a pilot implementation program. Although its efficacy is limited, the vaccine has the potential to reduce the burden of malaria in areas with high transmission rates.

In addition to these new drug therapies, it is also important to address the broader socioeconomic and environmental factors that contribute to the spread of malaria in Ghana. Access to healthcare, adequate sanitation, and clean water, as well as community-based interventions, are essential components of a comprehensive approach to malaria control.

As Ghana continues to grapple with the burden of malaria, the role of new drug therapies in the management and control of the disease cannot be overstated. These innovative approaches, in conjunction with existing strategies, have the potential to significantly reduce the impact of malaria on the population and contribute to the overall improvement of public health in Ghana. However, it is imperative that these interventions are implemented in a sustainable and equitable manner to ensure that all individuals at risk of malaria can benefit from these advancements.

About the author

Kwame Anane