Weekly Awesome Ghana, part IV: A Thorough Bed Net Distribution
Along with the rains of the wet season here in northern Ghana, there comes a huge influx of patients into our local clinic due to malaria related symptoms. Before attempting to address this problem, I first wanted to assess the community in order to identify: 1) the general knowledge of the signs, symptoms and treatment of malaria, 2) availability and access to bed nets, 3) current bed net usage, and 4) recent malaria related history in the area.
After compiling questions from current malaria-related surveys online, myself, five PCT’s and local translators, gathered information on 291 community members. We found the following trends helpful in addressing the problem in my community:
● Commonly identified symptoms of malaria included body pains, weakness, yellow eyes and urine and headache. None, however, mentioned the cyclical nature of the fever.
● Most knew someone who had been sick (mainly children and babies) though did not know or identify the sickness with death.
● Most did not have soak-away pits in their home.
● Around half of the households has 1-2 nets that were issued for free two years ago by our community health clinic. ALL did not have enough nets in their household to protect everyone.
Findings from the survey will vary with each community, especially if the community does not have access to a nearby health clinic. I am unsure of whether or not to charge a minimal fee for incoming bed nets, due to the fact they were given out for free in the past and people will be (even) more reluctant to pay! I plan on basing the minimum number of nets for each household on the number of children and pregnant women in each. Overall, we were impressed by the general knowledge of malaria in the community but plan on continued education along with stressing proper drug usage and seeking medical attention when necessary!
Connor Botkin, PCV