A tale of three villages
A new approach bringing together malaria and pneumonia treatment by community volunteers that could reduce childhood deaths in Africa
Ouagadougou: envisioning a better future
Dr Sodiomon Sirima is the principal investigator and heads the Centre National de Recherche et Formation sur le Paludisme (CNRFP) et Groupe Recherche Action en Santé (GRAS) in Ougadougou. He is optimistic about changing things, through “evidence-based findings.”.
One of the questions we are asking in the current malaria-pneumonia study is if there will be any confusion for the community health workers to work with two different drugs," he remarks, adding that the safety monitoring indications are encouraging. "So far we haven't seen any difference in the level of drug misuse in the two intervention arms."
As he provides a tour of his institute's laboratory facilities, Dr Sirima notes how the current study, like that of previous TDR studies, is strengthening local scientific expertise. "When I did my first malaria study 17 years ago I was the only local scientist involved. Today we are a team of 40 with 11 physicians and 15 PhDs."
Returning to the subject of the community case management approach, he speaks enthusiastically about extending the system to reach more people and to tackle other health problems. "It would cost only US $7 per child per year to scale up the current malaria-pneumonia model to a wider population," he says, adding that future studies could be applied to other health concerns such as diarrhea and malnutrition.
Echoing Dr Sirima's enthusiasm is Dr Emmanuel Bakyono, the Mangodara District Medical Officer. He points out that health officials are closely following the study and eagerly await the results. If the dual purpose model is proven successful, he hopes to see "the government take over the programme and expand it widely."
Training community health workers, emphasizes Dr Sirima, is crucial to making the community case management system work. "They are widely listened to by the community. They are able to make people comply with the strategy."
Back in Dérégoué earlier in the day, Dr Sirima's vision seemed to be taking shape. Community health worker Fatoumata Yampa gave her instructions one more time to Aguiratou Zagré. Speaking in the rhythmical cadence of the Dioula language, the young mother responded:
"Am bi fila ni di den ma fo ka ta tilé saaba daafa hali ni den ya yere soro."
I keep on giving the medicine for three days even if he gets healthy before then.