Health News of 2014-08-28

Don’t treat every fever as malaria - Public advised

A Clinical Pharmacist, Ms Ellen Sam, has advised the public to not treat every bout of fever as malaria since the mismanagement of such illnesses could lead to drug resistance.

According to her, drug resistance is one of the major barriers to kicking malaria out of Africa.

Ms Sam was speaking at a forum for journalists organised at Dodowa by the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN). The network is made up of journalists who write on malaria.

The forum, which was sponsored by MalariaCare, an initiative aimed at improving the management of malarial cases in seven regions of the country was on the theme: “The Media as Partners in the T3 strategy”.

The Malaria T3 strategy is a call on clinicians to test, treat and track all cases of malaria presented to them, in line with the effort to scale up diagnostic testing, treatment and surveillance for malaria.

Ms Sam advised against mono-therapy or the use of individual components of malaria treatment drugs, stressing that such treatment was not effective.

Combination therapy prevents or slows down resistance, Ms Sam advised and cautioned that “we must use current drugs with great care as there are no more weapons in our armoury.”

She, therefore, called on all to ensure that they were tested for malaria before taking any anti-malaria drug.

Ms Sam said people were dying from some health conditions because illnesses such as typhoid and tuberculosis presented themselves with fever, adding that the failure to ensure prompt treatment of such cases could lead to avoidable deaths.

Ms Sam expressed worry over the tendency for malaria patients to stop taking their drugs when they felt better, explaining that the artemisinin component in the artemisinin combination therapies (ACT) acted rapidly, clearing about 80 per cent of the parasites within 24 hours, making patients to feel better from day two.

With such initial feeling, she said, patients could be tempted not to finish the three-day regimen.

She said counselling was very crucial to enhance adherence as, according to her, the malaria would resurface if the full course of treatment was not adhered to and patients could be presented with severe malaria.

A Technical Advisor at MalariaCare, Dr Frank Baiden, said a 2011 malaria indicator cluster survey in children under five years showed that the malaria parasite prevalence ranged from four per cent in the Greater Accra Region to 51 per cent in the Upper West Region.

According to him, the prevalence rate of the parasite in the country was 39 per cent.

The country, he said, was divided into three ecological zones based on parasite prevalence in children who were six to 59 months old, with the Savannah Zone recording 44 per cent, the Forest Zone 28 per cent and the Coastal Zone 14 per cent.

He mentioned other factors affecting malaria transmission to include poverty.

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