Dr Evelyn Patrick, a Senior Clinical Expert with Malaria Consortium Nigeria, talks to Senior Community Health Extension Worker (SCHEW), Esther Gimba. Esther works in Gauraka Model Primary Health Care Centre, a health facility in Northern Nigeria that receives support from Malaria Consortium and partners to improve the quality of malaria care.
Esther Gimba is a health worker in Gauraka, a community 40km from the Nigerian capital, Abuja. Malaria is a difficult reality for people in this particular community and Esther deals, almost on a daily basis and especially during the rainy season, with people coming to the facility for malaria tests, treatment and preventive tools.
Until recently, there were serious challenges to treating patients from Gauraka suffering with malaria. The health facility did not stock long-lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINs) for community members; they often experienced stock-outs of the WHO recommended malaria treatment drug – Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT) – and patients would often come to the facility at a late stage in their illness, if at all. Today, through the support of Malaria Consortium and the National Malaria Control Programme, the story is different. As a result, Esther has seen a significant improvement in the health of the community.
The clinic is now busy most days and in a usual day Esther will attend to many pregnant women and young children. A typical day for Esther will involve admitting patients for 24-hour observation; referring patients in a critical condition to the closest General Hospital, at Sabon Wuse and administering routine immunisation for children from the community. Since Malaria Consortium, through the SuNMaP project, began to provide bed-nets and prevention treatment for malaria for routine distribution to pregnant women, more and more pregnant women have been coming to the facility.
Esther explained: “Antenatal attendance has increased due to the distribution of free LLINs and the reduction in cases of malaria in pregnant women on Sulphadoxine-Pyrimethamine (SP) for Intermittent Preventive Therapy.”
And it’s not just pregnant women who have started coming to the clinic. Esther also observed that since Malaria Consortium started providing ACTs, the WHO recommended treatment for malaria: “Patients come to see us in at the facility early when they have malaria because they do not experience itching as a side effect of the treatment of malaria as they did with Chloroquine. They request for ACTs when they are told they have malaria and have stopped me on the way in the past to thank me for giving them such an effective drug.”
These positive changes have been facilitated by Support to National Malaria Programme (SuNMaP) and other donors in collaboration with the State Malaria Control Programme (SMCP). In addition to bed nets and drugs for malaria treatment, SuNMaP has provided training to senior management staff at the Local Government Authority (LGA) level, which has been cascaded down through the LGA to staff, like Esther, in the Gauraka health facility. This training has contributed to Esther's ability to provide proper and effective health care to the community: “The training and job aids have really helped me know how to treat and prevent malaria better. I always advise patients to use their drugs and they really appreciate the rapid recovery associated with the malaria drugs.”
The support that Malaria Consortium Nigeria provides to staff like Esther and the Gauraka Primary Health Care centre is being replicated in LGAs throughout Nigeria. Find out more about Malaria Consortium Nigeria and our partners work in the country, here.