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Volunteer in malaria or do academic research in Ghana with Partner West Africa

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Date Posted: 20/07/2018

Volunteer Stewart writes about Malaria and the research for his maters dissertation that he’s been conducting here in Ghana.

Volunteer Stewart writes about Malaria and the research for his maters dissertation that he’s been conducting here in Ghana.


“Malaria is a global health concern for numerous countries, particularly those that lie around and below the equator. Transmission pathways to human arise most commonly from the female Anopheles mosquito that are vectors for the Plasmodium parasite. During a blood-meal, the infected mosquito transfers the parasite into the human blood systems where the parasites reproduce and multiply in the hosts liver and cause adverse effects by destroying the hosts red blood cells.



Initial symptoms of malaria are similar to that of flu and fever so mis-diagnosis is common. If the disease is allowed to continue, more severe symptoms such as shivering, vomiting, seizures, impaired consciousness, convulsions, abdominal bleeding and clinical jaundice can occur. Latter stages include vital organ dysfunction and failure and without treatment, severe forms of malaria can result in death.



Microscopic laboratory blood testing or rapid diagnostic testing, and the subsequent conformation of the Plasmodium parasite is advised by the World Health Organisation.  Due to malaria (especially in the early stages) resembling the flu, parasite identification tests are needed to identify the disease so the appropriate treatment (depending on the stages of malaria) can begin.

An early diagnosis of the disease is crucial for treatment and thus survival rates.



Once the Plasmodium has been identified, treatment can begin to eliminate the parasite from the hosts blood stream. Many methods of treatment are available and can be based on global location, money and numerous other factors. The recommended treatment from the WHO is Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). This is used as a method of treatment to combat malaria and is derived from the Artemisia annua plant and works by reducing the concentration of the Plasmodium parasites that are in the blood stream during the first 3 days in infection. This is then combined with a partner drug that eliminated the rest of the Plasmodium. Herbal remedies are also present in many sub-Saharan countries.

Additionally, malaria can be prevalent without symptoms if the hosts is immune. However, treatment may still go ahead to reduce the risk of person-to-person transmission.

Find out more about malaria in this interesting article here


Public Health Research

My research in Ghana is looking at public health issues across various smaller communities in the Ga South district in Greater Accra. Interviews have been conducted with a variety of medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists and public health workers. The purpose of my interviews was to gain insight into what the greatest health concerns the public here are facing. So far, numerous health issues have been identified and trends are beginning to show that issues like sexual health and sanitation are problems health professionals face on a day-to-day basis. However, it is clear that no matter who the interviewee was, their profession or where they worked, that the greatest public health issue currently facing the communities here is malaria.”


Find out more about how PWA can support you in your academic research by contacting us directly at volunteering@partnerwestafrica.org

Author: Stewart - PWA Volunteer

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