Ghana’s former President, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, on Friday praised Cuba for the role it is playing in the eradication of malaria in Ghana and the West Africa region.
Speaking at a meeting with the outgoing Cuban ambassador to Ghana, Dr Miguel Perez Cruz, President Rawlings said Ghana “owes Cuba a debt of gratitude” for the revolutionary new bio-spraying mechanism that eliminates mosquito larvae.
He said: “People cannot afford malaria treatment so this is very welcome.”
Ambassador Cruz informed the former President that Cuba is in conjunction with the National Malaria Control programme embarking on a nationwide project that is fighting mosquito larvae through an intensive spraying regime using bio-friendly spray to incapacitate larvae so they do not develop into mosquitoes.
The biolarvicide damages the productive mechanism of the larvae, effectively ensuring that they do not develop into mosquitoes.
The ambassador said already there are 22 Cuban specialists in Ghana helping to implement the project and very soon there will be a total of 200 specialists here to expedite the eradication programme.
The outgoing envoy said Cuba eradicated malaria in 1965 and recorded the last two Cuban cases in 1967. The new biolarvicide, he noted, was developed through extensive scientific research and soon a laboratory will be established in Tamale to produce the product in Ghana.
He confirmed that President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela was supporting the project with one million United States dollars.
Ambassador Cruz said a bio-friendly eradication of mosquito larvae was safer than the existing chemical spraying which has a negative effect on humans.
The new process, he indicated has been adopted by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with work already in progress in Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
The project has already been implemented in Brazil and Angola with phenomenal success, the ambassador said, noting that Ghana’s minimal success is already a model for West Africa.
The ambassador said his country was awarding annual scholarships to 300 Ghanaians to study medicine in Cuba.
The former President said he was impressed by the new technology, stating it was very welcome because many people could not afford malaria treatment after they had contracted the disease. He called on all those collaborating to implement the project to ensure that it is not undermined by the complexities of project management.
The President of the 31st December Women’s Movement, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, who was also at the meeting, said the project was very welcome because many Ghanaians are compelled to take substandard malaria drugs which do not effectively cure malaria.