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ANNOUNCEMENTS:::

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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Striving for excellence

A 45-minute drive from the traffic and smoke-choked city of Accra will take you to the serene town of Dodowa with its clean air, which offers a welcome relief from the offensive vehicular fumes of Ghana’s capital.

The Dodowa town, located in the Dangme West District of the Greater Accra region, looks sleepy with its green vegetation.  The area boasts of the famous “Dodowa Forest” which is said to be locked up with secrets.

The secrets of the forest remain exactly what they purport to be, until today. 

However, there are lots of activities of national importance going on in Dodowa and surrounding areas which, thankfully, are not secret.

There are the tourist attractions. The land is flat at sea level with isolated hills, among them the ancient SHAI HILLS, which is a magnet to tourists to the area.

More significantly, the area houses both the Dodowa Health Research Centre and the Dangme West District Hospital, two institutions, making important strides in the management of malaria in Ghana.

Over the years, the two institutions have been working side by side on various projects including the Phase 4 INDEPTH Effectiveness and Safety Studies of Anti-malarials in Africa, (INESS).

The Research Centre is one of the three institutions of the Ghana Health Service given the responsibility of conducting research. It has been the scene of many research activities which have impacted on public health in Ghana.

Among these was the research into the deployment of rectal artesunate for severe malaria in under-5 children permitting the emergency treatment of children who cannot take drugs by mouth and who do not have immediate access to injectable treatment.

The Hospital on the other hand may not be there yet, but it has certainly hit the trail of excellence in malaria case management. For the past two years, nobody treats malaria in the dark in that health facility. Clinical suspicions have no place in diagnosing the disease. 

One cannot begrudge Dr Kennedy Brightson, Medical Superintendent at the Hospital, as he talks about the strides the facility is making.

“We have a story to tell that it can be done. It is a policy to do away with blind treatment of malaria. What informed this is first of all the national cry that chloroquine, drug of history, is no longer needed, so we decided to cooperate.”

“We then took it upon ourselves as a unique institution that no confirmation no treatment. We tell people this whether there is temperature or vomiting. We educate our clients every morning and place speakers at the OPD, and then a prescriber or nurse gives the education.”

We tell them: “If you have ABC…you do not have malaria and that not all that presents like malaria is actually the disease. Sometimes, we have had violent attacks from patients who say the doctor did not give me any drugs. We also do in-house and out-reach programmes and disabuse peoples mind.”

Dr Brightson, also head of Maternity at the district hospital, said the facility always ensures that the laboratory is functioning and that there are enough rapid diagnostic test kits to help in case management.

The health facility in partnership with the Dodowa Health Research Centre is bending over to improve on malaria case management.

“We have been fortunate as a centre to be involved in research work for national programmes. Policies for new malaria drugs have been tried here. The Centre is close to us and an extension of the hospital.  The hospital has been awarded the best hospital in the management of malaria,” he explained.

The two facilities have recently worked closely on the INESS project, to gather data on the ground to help drive policy on malaria. The project is evaluating the safety of new anti-malarial through comprehensive pharmacovigilance within the health system. It was rolled out under various modules such as access to anti malarials, adherence, efficacy, provider compliance, community and provider acceptability, safety and the strengthening of adverse events reporting.

Mr Abraham Yellu, a pharmacist at the hospital who worked on the Safety Module of the INESS project, said the health facility was involved in the pharmacovigilance aspect of INESS and they helped by sensitizing other health workers on the need to report on adverse drug reactions.

He said, “as part of the pharmacovigilance activities we talk to patients, why, when and where to report adverse drug reactions and added that as a result of INESS, pharmacovigilance has been strengthened.  According to him, not many adverse drug reactions were reported during the study.

The hospital has also been involved in the SMS for life project to improve on accessibility and availability of anti-malarials.

Mr Yellu said the facility gives weekly reports on stock levels of various drugs including anti-malarials for monitoring and to check stock levels so it can be rolled out naturally.

“SMS for life is good as a monitoring tool to check on stock levels and I suggest a roll-out on a wider scale to also cover other medicines to treat common illnesses, especially those of maternal health,” he added.

Mrs Benedicta Owusu-Appiah, District Health Information Officer, said the SMS project is run in the hospital and it monitors RDTs, artemether-lumefantrine and artesunate-amodiaquine. 

She said public health facilities in the district send information on their stocks and negotiate with facilities that have more anti-malarials to make up for shortages elsewhere.

“On the whole, it is helpful to monitor stock levels of the commodities. The SMS started in July 2011 as a pilot and 15 public facilities made up of 4 health centres, the district hospital and 10 Community-based Health Planning System were involved,” Mrs.Owusu-Appiah added.

She said during the study, it came to light that the CHPS facilities did not have anti-malarial stocks for children as they do not attend to many children and they feared that stocked paediatric drugs may expire on them. They rather had stocks for adults.

Data collection is one other area that the facility is collaborating with the Dodowa Centre on in the INESS project.

Mr Richard Kpabitey, Coordinator of data linkage at the Centre, said there are some 116,000 individuals living in the district and out of this number, they have been able to capture the data of 100,000 people by taking basic information on these people including their biometric information and pictures.

“We have created a software at the health facility which records and updates the hospital attendance, treatment and other relevant information on everyone who receives healthcare here,” Mr.Kpabitey said.

This approach helps the researchers to check on the type of treatment given for malaria when a patient visits the health facility, and whether that person is adhering to the treatment.  This has helped in the gathering of information on patient’s adherence under the INESS module.

The demographic information of the whole of the Dangme West district, which is the sample size for the INESS project, is being linked to the hospital data of clients who attend the district hospital to gather information on malaria and treatment as part of the project.

This will in the long run generate a reliable database for the planning and implementation of vital health policies for the communities.

- By Mavis Tetteh - Ghana
 

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