The Paediatric Department of the Upper East Regional Hospital in Bolgatanga has screened more than 200 children at Zaare, a community in the Bolgatanga Municipality of the Upper East Region, for various health conditions.
The exercise, funded by the Anini Project, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), saw the children undergo physical examination, haemoglobin (HB) test, assessment of their oxygen levels, pulse and temperature.
They were screened by a physician specialist, general and paediatric nurses, and laboratory technicians, among others, drawn from the Regional Hospital and other surrounding health facilities.
Mr Mark Anthony Azongo, a Paediatric Nurse Specialist, and the Head of the Paediatric Department of the Hospital, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said the initiative was necessitated by the frequent number of anaemia cases recorded at the Department.
“We realised that almost on daily basis, we transfuse children on admission with blood. They keep coming in bad state that we need to transfuse. So, with support from the Anini Project we decided to get into the community to conduct health education and screening with emphasis on anaemia,” he said.
Out of 15 children screened in the early hours of Monday when the GNA visited, 13 were anaemic, Mr Azongo said.
“So far, what we are seeing here is not different from what we record on the ward. Children aged six months to six years are considered anaemic at HB levels less than 11 grams per deciliter (g/dl), and children aged six to 14 years are considered anaemic when Hb levels are less than 12 g/dl,” he explained.
Mr Azongo, also the President of the Nurse and Midwife Specialist Society of Ghana (NMSSG), expressed gratitude to the NGO, management of the Regional Hospital, the medical team, notably Dr Kofi Asare-Ansah, a Physician Specialist, and Madam Catherine Anyoka, the Deputy Chief Nursing Officer of the Hospital.
Dr Asare-Ansah said anaemia, worm infestations, malnutrition, and skin diseases were among the common health conditions identified in the community adding that the children were given prescriptions for medication.
While conducting physical examinations on them, he took the time to educate parents and guardians on proper hygiene practices, good nutrition, and the need to protect the children from mosquito bites.
Ms Sofia Gonzalez Mesias, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NGO, said the organisation had undertaken many development initiatives including the construction of a school, and support to orphanages, especially the God’s Love Residential Home in Bolgatanga.
She said health was a critical component of the NGO’s activities, and that apart from the screening exercise, it settled the hospital bills of children whose families could not afford the medication.
Ms Mesias said some parents often reported late to the hospital with their sick children, adding; “The problem I see is the timing. Before they arrive at the hospital, they are in a dangerous stage.”
She was hopeful that the screening exercise would be replicated in other communities to help in the identification of health conditions, especially anaemia and malnutrition, for early treatment.
The families commended the NGO and the health team for the initiative to treat conditions in the children that were unknown to them.