Jaway Wharf, Ghana – In the one-room health post in Jomoro District, two nurses conferred about their newest client—a girl brought there by her mother. The child had a 104-degree fever and the health care providers were intent on helping the girl. In this western region of Ghana, malaria is endemic and the nurses had seen such high fevers before in suspected cases.
Along this lush, rain-soaked coastal area, malaria is the primary cause of death in health institutions and accounts for 39 percent of all outpatient visits, 48 percent of admissions to hospitals for children under five and 18 percent of deaths in facilities. In 2009, malaria was the reason 900,000 Ghanaians paid a visit to an outpatient clinic, and malaria in pregnancy was the seventh leading cause for hospital admissions in the region, according to the most recent statistics available.
A new public-private partnership, recently announced by Jhpiego and in collaboration with the Ghana Health Services, should help strengthen the health care system, increase skills of health care providers and improve malaria prevention and treatment for Ghanaians in the western region. A consortium of Tullow Oil, Kosmos Energy, Anadarko Petroleum, Ghana National Petroleum, Sabre and EO Group has pledged $4.6 million to fund a five-year plan to improve the Community-based Health Planning Services (CHPS), a network of government-supported clinics staffed by nurses or midwives who provide care to local communities.
The program, to be implemented by Jhpiego, will focus on integrating malaria prevention and education services and supplies with reproductive health, family planning and immunizations to improve and expand access to frontline health care for nearly one million residents.
Tullow Oil, as part of Jubilee Partners, approached Jhpiego a year ago because of its interest in improving health care in six provinces. An assessment team led by Jhpiego’s malaria expert, Dr. Bill Brieger, visited the area last fall. A review found gaps and deficiencies in health care services, but the team also saw an opportunity for a healthier future based on the government’s commitment to the CHPS system, its 43 clinics and its requirement that communities participate in their local compound, though some areas have lagged in participation.
“Focusing on the community-based CHPS compounds will surely lead to an upgrade of our rural health infrastructure and improve their capacity to diagnose prevalent diseases,” said Dr. Linda Vanotoo, Regional Director of the Ghana Health Services.
The project’s goal by the end of 2016 will be for residents in the six coastal districts of the western region to have experienced incremental, year-to-year reduction of malaria cases and increasingly improved health outcomes, greater family planning acceptance and fewer cases of pneumonia.