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Managing malaria; test before treatment!

Mawutor, aged 27, woke up with aches and fever, and could not help himself, so he stayed longer in bed instead of preparing himself for work on that fateful day.

He remembered that the week before he had bought some medical drugs while on a bus from work. This was hidden somewhere in his laptop’s bag so he quickly fetched it and requested his younger sibling, Elorm, to go to the community drugstore to get him some more painkillers and an anti-malaria drug.

Elorm returned with the Over-The-Counter (OTC) drugs, and so, Mawutor commenced treatment on his own without any medical examination or advice. Around 4pm he was out of bed, boasting “I think my condition had improved, Thank You Jesus!”  He then called in sick, promising his supervisor that he would be at work the next day in order to finish the task given him two day earlier.

However, the next morning, what Mawutor had hoped was ‘slight malaria’ knocked him down. He could not move out of his bed. The aches had become severe with fever and vomiting.

Sensing danger, his sibling, Elorm rushed to get a taxi, whose driver aided him to whisk Mawutor to a public health facility in less than 30 minutes.

At the OPD, Mawutor’s bio-data and others were taken and his temperature was checked. It was slightly above normal – (38 Degrees Celsius) hence, the physician attending to him requested a laboratory test which came out positive for malaria. So severe was his condition that he had to be admitted, until he regained consciousness and eventually discharged from the hospital.

Mawutor’s situation of self-medication, unfortunately, is very common among many of us and has become the norm. However, it has associated dangers that can lead to even death.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), self-prescription of medical drugs is a huge challenge globally and this is more pronounced in developing countries.

The WHO African Region, recorded over 384,000 deaths due to malaria in the year 2020.  In 2019 alone, 229 million cases of malaria were recorded globally resulting in 409,000 deaths with Africa accounting for 94% of both cases and deaths recorded.

These include Ghana where high poverty levels, high illiteracy and ignorance compel most of the populace to self-medicate through the patronage of over the counter (OCT) drugs or even buying drugs at unapproved places such as bus terminals, in the streets, market squares, among others.

Cautioning against such unhealthy practices, a Medical Doctor, at the Ketu South Municipal Hospital in the Volta Region, Dr. Richmond K. Offei said “medically, self-prescription is dangerous!”

Self-medication with the least suspicion of a medical symptom, without reporting to the appropriate medical personnel, is often taken for granted by many people, until their situations become worse,” he stated.

Speaking to Diamond News in an interview, Dr. Offei explained that testing for malaria helps medical professionals and the patient(s) to know if they are indeed dealing with malaria or other conditions.

Symptoms are not exclusive to malaria alone, other conditions present similarly to it, and hence we encourage laboratory testing, before the administering of the malaria drugs.”

According to Dr Offe, self-medication or being quick to get anti-malaria drugs without a medical professional’s approval should not be encouraged.

Firstly, this is to prevent resistance to the new anti-malarial (Artemisinin based therapy). As with every drug, the more we abuse it, the higher the risk of resistance. Eg: chloroquine which is no longer used because of the resistance of the parasites to it,” he stated.

 “Every drug has a side effect, and so you don’t have to be quick to take medical drugs without our medical advice “and so it is very necessary to take the medications only when indicated since this will reduce the exposure to these side effects,” Dr. Offei further cautioned.

 Story by: Nyadror Adanuti Nelson | www.diamondfmonline.com

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