What will prevent a poor rural child from dying of Malaria Disease? Is it Nutrition? Education? Clean Environment? A Responsive Health System?
The Methodist Church Ghana operates three health centres in the Lake Bosomtwe catchment area, which has 24 rural communities. These health centres participated in the implementation of the Imagine No Malaria program in Ghana from January 2017-November 2017.
A 14-year old boy, Francis Kwarteng and his 10- year old brother, whose mother was dead, their father unemployed, living with their grandmother in Atafram, one of the 24 Lake communities, were taken to the Methodist Health Centre Amakom with severe malaria in November 2016. The health centre not having the resources to manage them immediately transferred them to the district hospital in Pramso, 29km away. They were treated and discharged home, and reviewed at the health center a week later.
A few months later, Francis’ brother was taken ill and rushed to the Health Centre at Amakom. He died on arrival and it was later determined that the cause of death was severe anaemia. The Clinic staff were concerned. So they followed up with a visit to see Francis. He looked okay. However, the next day after the visit, he was rushed to the Health Centre by the grandmother with malaria.
The INM program trained participants in integrated management of childhood illnesses so that they will not miss any opportunity in diagnosing a case of childhood illness, since they operate in rural areas. Using the knowledge gained from the training, they assessed Francis thoroughly and noted that he had severe malaria with severe anaemia. His haemoglobin level was 5.0g/dl.
The Health Centre without the capacity to transfuse blood decided to immediately transfer Francis to the district hospital. The grandmother did not have funds for the transfer. Fortunately, the INM project team was on monitoring visit to the facility, so they advanced some funds to cover the transfer, transfusion and further tests at the district hospital.
Francis was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Condition at the district hospital, and upon discharge, the Health Centre Team invited the Father and grandmother to educate them on the condition and how to take care of him. Francis was saved because the Methodist Health Centre was responsive to his needs despite the economic conditions of the family, and the INM program equipped the staff with the capacity to be able to respond appropriately.