Action Meningitis expands to rural clinics
13 February 2014
Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) has now expanded its Action Meningitis health intervention scheme to Chikhwawa following its successful pilot project in five primary health clinics in Blantyre in 2012/2013.
An estimated 1,000 people die of meningitis globally every day. The World Health Organization (WHO) say meningitis is a hidden disease in the developing world and more than half the babies and children who get meningitis in Malawi will die from the illness, while others are left with serious disabilities which the country is ill equipped to support.
Working in partnership with Blantyre District health office, the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust, Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre and D-tree International, a new triage system which uses mobile phone technology has been introduced to speed up and track hospital referrals to QECH. Since December 2012 over 96,000 children who were at risk of dying in a queue waiting to be seen were triaged.
As a result of the success of this pilot Action Meningitis is now working to introduce the same mHealth technology at Makhwira and Mfera primary health clinics and Chikhwawa District Hospital.
In October 2013 30 Health Care Workers (HCWs) from the two clinics and 10 HCWs from Chikhwawa District Hospital were trained to use the Emergency Triage Assessment and Treatment (ETAT ) mobile phone technology. The phones have allowed them to triage and identify children suffering from meningitis and other life threatening diseases quickly and effectively ensuring they get the correct medical help which will allow for better survival/recovery. Since the triage system has been introduced in the Chikhwawa region – 4,292 children have been seen.
Norman Lufesi, Programme Manager at the Ministry of Health said: “ Better recognition and treatment for critically ill children is a key priority for the Ministry of Health so we can reduce child mortality and improve the health literacy of the public. We began working with Meningitis Research Foundation and Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust on this project since April 2012. Action Meningitis launched in Blantyre with the support of Blantyre District Health and District Medical Offices, and the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital Paediatrics Department who were all involved in developing the concept. Together we have delivered training to healthcare workers and supported primary health clinics. In conjunction with the local District Health Offices, the Ministry of Health will continue to guide and contribute to the Action Meningitis project for 2014-2015 and beyond as it expands into Malawi.”
Thomasena O’Byrne, Project Manager for Action Meningitis in Malawi said: “Action Meningitis was developed following MRF funded research which suggested that delayed diagnosis and treatment at hospital is a driving factor for death from bacterial meningitis and other severe illnesses in Malawi, where the fatality rate for children with meningitis is over 50%. The research also found that meningitis is regularly mistaken for malaria at both community and primary care level. Given the rapid onset of meningitis and other severe childhood illnesses, urgent hospital treatment is vital. Action Meningitis has helped increase survival rates in Blantyre and now Chikhwawa and we hope we can continue making a difference to the health of children in Malawi.”
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