REPORT ON HEALTH SCREENING AT THE VILLAGE OF WAWASO IN THE VOLTA REGION ON MAY 22ND, 2016
The inhabitants of Wawaso – a farming community in the Volta Region, were put through a health screening program on May 21, 2016 at about 12:45 am. The screening was to aid the inhabitants realize their health status with regards to Malaria, BP and Bilharzia. Since they live close to a riverbank and are prone to river blindness and malaria.
The goal of the screening was to help the inhabitants know their health status which will translate into an improved standard of living. This as a result will help the community and the nation at large.
The screening held seeks to achieve the following:
- Enlighten the individuals on the need for a healthy living.
- Make them understand the need to keep their surroundings clean.
- The various ways by which they can avoid contracting bilharzia and malaria.
- How the inhabitants can handle minor health issues with the use of First Aids and natural remedies.
276 people were screened out of which 100 were female and 62 were male. The rest constituted 114 children. Though the number was more than 276, our actually medical supply plus back up was only able to screen 276 people. The number that actually showed up for the screening was 348.
We had 8 cases of malaria and none for bilharzia, with the malaria cases 4 were female and 4 male. They were put on malaria treatment medication.
The facilitators for the health screening were Nana Kontor, Nana Oduro, Samuel Saka, Obedi Agyei Mensah, Ebenezer Emisah, Frank Obeng, Dwamena Asare, Maxwell Owusu, Tiwaa and Victoria. A few of these volunteers are professional health worker and the rest are in other fields of operation.
The inhabitants’ expectations at the end of the health screening are;
- To acquire knowledge about how to address minor health issues
- To learn new ideas on how to keep their environs clean to avoid diseases
- To learn about healthy living.
The following Methodologies were used during the screening process;
- Discussions and Illustrations
- Questions and answers
- Giving of gifts to those who answered sensitive questions, the idea was to get their utmost concentration.
WHY HEALTHY LIVING
Living a healthy lifestyle may mean something different from one person to the next. For some, health is defined by living a disease-free life. For others, healthy is being able to play with grandchildren or perhaps adhering to a weekly exercise schedule. Though the definition of health may differ among people, living a healthy lifestyle is a fundamental component to achieving your optimal mental and physical well-being. Furthermore food choices affect our health each day i.e. how we feel today, tomorrow, and in the future. Good nutrition is an integral part of living a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, our diet can help us reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce our risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer), and other life style diseases promote our overall health. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle not only improves our quality of life, but promotes longevity.
WHAT IS MALARIA AND ITS CAUSES
Malaria can occur if a person is bitten by a mosquito infected with the Plasmodium parasite. An infected mother can also pass the disease to her baby at birth. This is known as congenital malaria. Malaria is transmitted by blood, so it can also be transmitted through:
- an organ transplant
- a transfusion
- use of shared needles or syringes and from person to person
The symptoms of malaria typically develop within 10 days to four weeks following the infection. In some people, symptoms may not develop for several months. Some malarial parasites can enter the body but will be dormant for long periods of time. Common symptoms of malaria include:
- shaking chills that can range from moderate to severe •high fever •profuse sweating•headache•nausea•vomiting•diarrhea•anemia•muscle pain•convulsions•coma•bloody stools.
Malaria can cause a number of life-threatening complications. The following may occur:
- swelling of the blood vessels of the brain, or cerebral malaria
- an accumulation of fluid in the lungs that causes breathing problems, or pulmonary edema
- organ failure of the kidneys, liver, or spleen
- anemia due to the destruction of red blood cells
- low blood sugar
Malaria is a life-threatening condition. Treatment for the disease is typically provided in a hospital. In some instances, the medication prescribed will not clear you of the infection. Parasites that are resistant to drugs have been reported. These parasites make many drugs ineffective. If this occurs, your doctor may need to use more than one medication or change medications altogether to treat your condition.
How to prevent Malaria:
- Weed surrounding bushes
- Distill stagnant gutters
- Avoid dumping refuse indiscriminately
- Report promptly when symptoms of malaria occurs to get treated
- Sleep in mosquito net
WHAT IS BILHARZIA
Schistosomiasis, also known as bilharzia, is an infection caused by a parasitic worm that lives in fresh water in subtropical and tropical regions.
The parasite is most commonly found throughout Africa
HOW YOU CAN BILHARZIA
The worms that cause schistosomiasis live in fresh water, such as:
- ponds •lakes •rivers •reservoirs •canals
You can become infected if you come into contact with contaminated water – for example, when paddling, swimming or washing – and the tiny worms burrow into your skin. Once in your body, the worms move through your blood to areas such as the liver and bowel.
After a few weeks, the worms start to lay eggs. Some eggs remain inside the body and are attacked by the immune system, while some are passed out in the person’s urine or stool. Without treatment, the worms can keep laying eggs for several years.
If the eggs pass out of the body into water, they release tiny larvae that need to grow inside freshwater snails for a few weeks before they are able to infect another person.
Symptoms of schistosomiasis
Many people with schistosomiasis do not have any symptoms, or do not experience any for several months or even years.
You probably would not notice that you have been infected, although occasionally people get small, itchy red bumps on their skin for a few days where the worms burrowed in.
After a few weeks, some people develop:
- a high temperature (fever) above 38C (100.4F)
- an itchy, red, blotchy and raised rash
- a cough •diarrhoea •muscle and joint pain •abdominal (tummy) pain •a general sense of feeling unwell
These symptoms, known as acute schistosomiasis, often get better by themselves within a few weeks. But it is still important to get treated because the parasite can remain in your body and lead to long-term problems.
Long-term problems caused by schistosomiasis
Some people with schistosomiasis, regardless of whether they had any initial symptoms or not, eventually develop more serious problems in parts of the body where the eggs have travelled to. This is known as chronic schistosomiasis. Chronic schistosomiasis can include a range of symptoms and problems, depending on the exact area that’s infected. For example, an infection in the:
- digestive system can cause anaemia, abdominal pain and swelling, diarrhoea and blood in your stool.
- urinary system can cause irritation of the bladder (cystitis), pain when urinating, a frequent need to pee, and blood in your urine
- heart and lungs can cause a persistent cough, wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing up blood
- nervous system or brain can cause seizures (fits), headaches, weakness and numbness in your legs, and dizziness Without treatment, affected organs can become permanently damaged.
There’s no vaccine for schistosomiasis, so it’s important to be aware of the risks and take precautions to avoid exposure to contaminated water. You can check whether the area you are visiting is known to have a problem with schistosomiasis.
If you’re visiting one of these areas:
- avoid paddling, swimming and washing in fresh water – only swim in the sea or chlorinated swimming pools
- take waterproof trousers and boots with you if there’s a chance you’ll need to cross a stream or river
- boil or filter water before drinking – as the parasites could burrow into your lips or mouth if you drink contaminated water
- avoid medicines sold locally that are advertised to treat or prevent schistosomiasis – these are often either fake, substandard, ineffective or not given at the correct dosage
Applying insect repellent to your skin or quickly drying yourself with a towel after getting out of the water are not reliable ways of preventing infection, although it’s a good idea to dry yourself as soon as possible if you are accidentally exposed to potentially contaminated water
The lessons learnt by the people of Wawaso at the end of the health training/screening are as follows;
- How to handle their environs to prevent themselves from Malaria and Bilharzia.
- How to manage minor health issues at home before receiving medical attention at the nearest health center.
- How to cultivate the habit of a healthy living.
- The impact of healthy living on their future lives.
- How an individual can avoid Malaria, High Blood Pressure, Bilharzia and other health related issues.
More of such trainings/screening should be organized for the dwellers. This will help them to remain committed to healthy living.
It was a wonderful moment we had with the people. In as much as they got educated we got educated too, we learnt how they also use traditional means to solve most of their health problems.
We say a big thank you to the chief and elders of Wawaso for welcoming us into their village. And a big thank you to our Board sponsors and all the volunteers who made this project a success.