Biskmark Amankwaah, Physician’s Assistant, Ghana
Bismark is on the front line of the malaria fight in his role as a Physician’s Assistant at Ejura hospital.
Around 70% of the 200 patients we see every day are suspected to have malaria. There are only two hospitals in this district and people come far to get here. Sometimes they come too late with severe malaria and it can be fatal. Thankfully there are still many that we are able to save because we have the right treatment. We treat simple malaria with a combination medicine called ACTs, we give people three days supply to take home and ask them to come back for a follow up. Those with severe malaria are admitted to the hospital immediately for emergency intravenous treatment.
Children under five – they are most vunerable
The only way to really diagnose malaria for sure is through a blood test. Our lab can check blood for malaria under a microscope, but it is small and the patients are too many so it is used for severe malaria cases and inpatients. It also takes 45 minutes to one hour to get the blood test results. Another quick way we can test for malaria is with rapid diagnostic tests (RDT’s), these are so much quicker, giving a result in just a few minutes. I have just used one to diagnose a small boy with malaria. Of all the cases we test with RDTs, 60-70% are positive for malaria, so these confirm the high levels of the disease here. We need more supplies and staff trained to use the RDTs so that we can test more of the malaria cases, sometimes we rely on clinical judgement but this is not perfect and we could treat a problem that is not malaria.
Bismark spoke to us just before the launch of a region-wide mosquito net distribution campaign that Malaria No More UK helped support, aiming to ensure every home in the area has a mosquito net. Referencing the campaign Bismark says: Prevention is better than cure and our clients are not sleeping under mosquito nets. I am pleased that a free net distribution will be done soon here. If people get the nets and understand how to use them I think it will really benefit the community. If we have nets and reduce malaria then we will have less cases coming here and we will be very happy to rest our bones a bit!