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TIPS ON MALARIA

  • HOW CAN MOSQUITOES BE CONTROLLED?

    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.

  • HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM MOSQUITO-BORN DISEASES?

    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.

  • WHO ARE AT RISK?


    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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POLICY AND RESEARCH - BEDMATES

Research-driven policies  and programmes  are  what  make communities  tick  and  come alive with tangible development. Rolling out policies in developing countries such as  Ghana  based  largely  on  political motivations,  patronage  and  parochial interests are no longer feasible judging from the huge development issues facing governments in sub-Saharan countries

It  is  increasingly  becoming  clear  to governments that solutions to issues such as the steep rise in  non-communicable disease  in  communities,  acute  water shortage,  chronic  poverty  and  other development  problems  among  others, will need to be  tackled based on well- researched evidence to make meaningful impact.

It  is  gratifying  therefore  that  some organizations  have  come  in  to  help support research institutions to churn out useful data that would help address the need to merge policies with research to offer evidence-based solutions to  the myriad challenges plaguing developing countries.

The  INDEPTH  Network  is  one  such organization which has over the  years since its es tablishment in 1998, harnessed  demographic  data  among others to provide empirical understand- ing of health and social issues and apply the information to alleviate the numerous health and social challenges.

The Network's objective is to strategi- cally contribute to policy  and practice and  one  of  its  main  efforts  has  been directed at malaria research. Its activities have largely  been rolled out in centres located in and outside Africa through the establishment of functioning Health and Demographic  Surveillance  Systems (HDSS) which churns out data from the communities serving the centres.

The Network, through its HDSS centres in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique among others, has over the years been able  to conduct studies on malaria transmission risk, bed nets cost effectiveness and social  marketing strategies among others. Meanwhile, the Network is also  strategically placed to extend its activities to tackle some gaps, such  as climate change and malaria issues and look into emerging areas like malaria eradication and elimination.

Looking  into  the  past,  some  of  the Network's research activities has brought to  light  that  insecticide  treated  nets (ITNs)  are  highly  protective  against malaria infection and  its studies contributed to the current evidence that when  used properly, bed nets and curtains  treated  with  permethrin  are highly  protective  against  malaria  in children less than 5 years in sub-Saharan Africa.

Similarly its studies also showed that the optimal use of ITNs also  significantly improves child growth and the chances of survival through childhood.

INDEPTH studies, for example,  also showed that social marketing of ITNs led to higher overall levels of coverage in the lowest  socioeconomic  groups  and  in those living on the periphery of  their villages.

Some of its studies also looked at  the prompt, accurate diagnosis and treatment of malaria with  combination therapies with  artemisinin derivatives ACTs   as important cornerstones of  malaria control.  Its  work  contributed  to  the current  evidence that   ACTs are more effective in clearing malaria  parasites than  older  monotherapies  such  as chloroquine  and sulphad oxine-pyrimethamine.

The work of INDEPTH's HDSS centres scattered all round have been critical in helping  to  define  and  shape  policy interventions  that  has  supported  the health  and social needs within the communities.

Some studies conducted by the Dodowa Health Research Centre are for instance helping both at the  local and national level to drive policies and programmes through data gathered from the community. A rectal artesunate study, a malaria  control  programme,  though ended, is  helping with health interven- tion programmes. The rectal artesunate is a rectal formulation of the anti-malarial artesunate,  which  permits  emergency treatment of  patients who cannot take drugs by  mouth and who do not have immediate access to injectable treatment. In August 2005, the rectal formulation, a pre-referral treatment, was deployed for use in the Dangme West district, which houses the research centre.

According  to  Dr  Margaret  Gyapong, Director of the Dodowa Health Research Centre, the aim of the intervention was to put in place pre-referral treatment to beat time for a mother to look for money and transport to take her child to the hospital. “If you take the rectal artesunate, for instance, in  the  new  malaria  treatment  guideline, there is pre-referral treatment inside of that document, so these feed into policy,” she added.

Another  study  from  the  centre  that  is helping  with  the  development  of  health intervention in the country is the study on the use of rapid diagnostic test (RDT) kits in chemical shops. Some health  facilities  in the  country  are  currently  using  RDTs, where there  is no microcopy. RDT is a quick approach to treatment.

“Majority  of our people go to  chemical shops so the study was conducted among shop owners. The study is wrapping up. We started about two years ago and the aim was to look at the feasibility of using RDTs in chemical shops. We brought them together, trained them to identify signs and symptoms  of  malaria  and  the  new  anti malarials,” Dr Gyapong said.

The  chemical  sellers  were  also  trained using experienced lab technicians on how to take blood samples for the RDTs and they were  then given the RDT kits and they implemented it for about a year.

On findings from the study, Dr  Gyapong said the chemical sellers are able to use the kits to test for malaria before treatment.

The little problem with the study had to do with  when  someone  came  in  with  or without malaria one had to test the person and fill out a form and it was tedious for the chemical sellers to comply with.

Again, when a client came in and does not have  malaria,  the  rule  is  one  cannot dispense drugs because the kit has indicated that but some of the chemical sellers still gave  out  drugs,  even  in the  absence  of malaria because they needed to make their money. Also when they referred people to other health facilities some people did not go because it was too cumbersome.

Based on these findings and results  from the RDT study, the research centre has had a dissemination  meeting  with stakeholders but are now doing detailed analysis of the study.  The  National  Malaria  Control Programme (NMCP) is part of the process. As a result of this, the NMCP has asked the centre to set up another study in Ga, Weija and Damfa areas for a similar study.

On  the  future  of  research  activities,  Dr Gyapong said: “We have been engaged in issues that have to do with climate change. We  are  looking  at  rainfall  patterns, temperature etc.  We are part of a working group with Burkina Faso and so if there is anything to do with malaria and  climate, because of our experience  right now, we may  be  able  to  look  at  some  of  these issues.”

“If you take Dangme West for instance, we have not been able to do a lot of entomolog- ical  studies,  to  understand  the  malaria insect, whether it is changing, and the biting habits of mosquitoes. So this is an area that still needs looking at. It is a possibility we may venture into.

“The malaria community is talking about elimination. We will be well placed to help because of the HDSS and the capacity that has been built,” she added
 

Editions: 
INDEPTH Edition