SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

MRF expands meningitis treatment to rural Malawi

The Meningitis Research Foundation, a U.K.-based organization, announced on Thursday that it expanded its Action Meningitis health intervention scheme to Chikhwawa, a rural part of Malawi.

The MRF announced the expansion after conducting a successful pilot project in five primary health clinics in Blantyre, Malawi. In October, the MRF and its partners trained 40 healthcare workers in Chikhwawa to use emergency triage assessment and treatment mobile phone technology. The phones allowed the HCWs to quickly triage and identify children suffering from meningitis and other life threatening illnesses.

"Better recognition and treatment for critically ill children is a key priority for the Ministry of Health so we can reduce child mortality and improve the health literacy of the public," Norman Lufesi, the programme manager at Malawi's Ministry of Health, said.

MRF worked in partnership with the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust, Blantyre District health office, D-tree International and Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre to develop the new triage system. The technology lets healthcare workers speed up and track hospital referrals.

Since December 2012, 96,000 children at risk of dying in a queue were triaged in Blantyre. Since the triage system was introduced in October, 4,292 children were seen in the Chikhwawa region.

"Action Meningitis has helped increase survival rates in Blantyre and now Chikhwawa and we hope we can continue making a difference to the health of children in Malawi," Thomasena O'Byrne, the project manager for Action Meningitis in Malawi, said.

O'Byrne said the fatality rate for children with meningitis is more than 50 percent. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 1,000 people die of meningitis worldwide each day.