By: Alisa Langford
When Peace Corps volunteer and Master’s International student Matthew Ward came to Ghana to work on his Public Health thesis about tropical medicine, he naturally chose one of the most deadly and prevalent diseases here – malaria.
Matthew first aimed to increase the quality of care for patients. After surveying Morkwa and conferring with his counterpart Mike Nkansah, they decided to renovate a room in the clinic at his small gold mining community in the Central region.
They applied for a Small Projects Assistance grant from Peace Corps/USAID and secured a community contribution of labor and supplies totaling 25% of the project. The team installed better walls and more sturdy furniture and even brought running water to the site.
While the building is much improved, Matthew now has bigger plans – he will bring lab technology to Morkwa.
Currently, Ghana Health Services (GHS) heavily relies on Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) to diagnose malaria and Matthew hopes to bring it a step further. Once the microscopes are installed and the lab technicians have been trained (with the health of GHS) they will begin by confirming all RDTs using blood smears.
With these techniques clinicians can make a highly accurate diagnosis and obtain other relevant pathological and treatment information, including Plasmodium species identification and parasite density. This information will allow them to provide an increased level of personalized patient care, enhance monitoring and evaluation and enable public health officials to make more informed decisions in the fight to eradicate the disease.