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    Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Residents are urged to reduce standing water around the home in a variety of ways.


    The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.This can be accomplished using personal protecting  while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Treated bed nets should be used sleeping. Mosquito repellent should be used when outdoor.


    Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of getting malaria. Pregnant women are particularly at risk of malaria. Children under 5 years are at high risk of malaria.


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  • Volume 1

One good innovation

In many parts of Africa, a visit to the hospital begins with a task to find hospital cards. It requires rummaging through all possessions to find a card, which tends to go missing every time a hospital visit is imminent.

Some people have found the solution in having several cards even for the same medical unit. Usually, the registration desk issues a hospital card for new patients at a small fee so the request for a new one is deemed a manageable inconvenience.

Luckily, better times are in the offing with an innovation in keeping records. This way, vital information of communities are stored and linked to clusters of records in a reliable database to help provide better services for all.

Although it provides tremendous benefits, it is really a complex task involving the data integration process of accurately matching records from multiple data sources with information on individuals.

Data linkage offers the great advantage of helping to identify people and their health situations over a period of time so that appropriate interventions can be used to handle their problems.

Thanks to the INDEPTH Effectiveness and Safety Studies of antimalarials (INESS), a data linkage system has been introduced in health facilities where Phase 4 studies is being undertaken to look at the performance of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs).

The new system is expected to be a welcome development in hospitals if they start using the facility because it will help patients to easily access health facilities with or without their cards.

It will also help the facilities to easily generate daily, monthly and annual reports, account for the number of patients, as well as help in diagnosis.

Furthermore, it allows for contact tracing in case of an outbreak of disease.

The data linkage system is a component of the INESS studies in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Tanzania and Mozambique which aims to link the demographic data of the clients who visit the health facility to a data bank.

Giving more details about the facility, Eliezer Ofori Odei-Lartey, Data Linkage Co-ordinator for the Kintampo Hospital in the Brong-Ahafo Region of Ghana, said the data linkage software helps to identify patients and link their information to the routine data collected by the health system.

He said the system is loaded with the details of the patients so that they can easily be identified. The patient’s information collected by the physicians concerning diagnosis and treatment are then subsequently linked to their data so that it can be stored for further analysis.

“There are various ways of identifying the patient. They can either be identified by their picture, finger print, Out Patients Department number, or health insurance number,” he said.

“When patients visit the facility for the first time, their details are captured and followed up to inquire whether they are residents in the Health Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) for the required period. The details will then be transferred to the HDSS office so that they capture the information.”

Mr. Odei-Lartey also spoke of realities of taking the finger prints of some members in the communities.

“Manual workers have hard, rough or damaged finger thumb prints so other fingers that are less damaged are used in place of the thumb. The other alternative is by using their health insurance numbers or OPD numbers to identify them. This also applies to the older folks who have very smooth fingers.”

“There is also difficulty in capturing finger prints of children under two because they virtually have no finger prints. In the case of children their heels are used. Children between two to twelve years also have their finger prints changing with time so we have to update them from time to time.”

He added that power outage is not a big challenge because the Kintampo Health Research Centre (KHRC) has purchased a standby generator to manage the project. Moreover, the hospital has a generator and these serve as backup power systems when there are challenges.

A visit to the records department of the facility indicated that folders of patients have taken so much space hence difficulty in retrieval.

Isaac Addai Mensah, Head of the Records Department of the facility, said the software has been very useful for patients because it identifies patients for easier access to patient record. It has also been very helpful to the facility because duplicate entries are easily detected.

Jeremiah Timob, Administrator of the Kintampo Hospital, also admitted that the data linkage system is helping the facility to generate more meaningful information that can help in better planning better.

He noted that it is helping the facility to come up with many comprehensive analysis based on the detailed information they are now generating.

Paul Welaga, Data Linkage Co-ordinator for Navrongo Health Research Centre (NHRC) in Northern Ghana said the system will help to monitor the population dynamics and the disease prevalence in the community.

He said, for the community, it is very convenient because people who do not come to the health facility with their ID cards can still be attended to through other information like the finger print information which can used to identify them.

Mr. Welaga said their enumeration started in 2010 and so far over 76% of the population has been covered. In figures, they have collected biometric information on 117,000 people out of 150,000 people under surveillance.

INESS is a Phase 4 study which examines the safety and effectiveness of antimalarials in several districts in several African countries.

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, INESS started in Ghana and Tanzania with Burkina Faso and Mozambique joining later.

The INESS project aims to provide national, regional and international health decision- makers with independent and objective evidence on the safety and effectiveness of new antimalarial drugs as a basis for malaria treatment policy in Africa.

- By Mavis Tetteh, Ghana

Iness Edition