Some Communities in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality and Kassena-Nankana West District of the Upper East Region have identified limited health facilities for the management of mental health conditions as one of the causes of increased depression and hypertension.
The communities also called for the management of other Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), especially hypertension at the Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) levels within the Districts.
The views were contained in a formative qualitative study conducted by the Navrongo Health Research Centre (NHRC) to understand the management of NCDs in 13 communities across the two Districts at the CHPS level.
The study showed that Community Health Officers (CHOs) and NCDs checked the Blood Pressures (BPs) of the aged and also monitored medications taken by hypertensive and depressed patients in the communities.
Madam Maria Anyorikeya, a Senior Research Officer at the NHRC, who disclosed this in an interview with journalists from the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN), said the care was limited and clients had to travel far to access health care from higher facilities.
She said the few Communities Mental Health Officers were overwhelmed with the large client to provider ratio in the provision of mental health services.
“CHOs and Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) said they could provide more management for hypertension and depression at the CHPS level when given the needed training, logistics and supervision.”
Madam Anyorikeya, who is also the Co-ordinator for the project, ‘Adopting the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Cardiovascular Risk Management package into the Ghanaian CHPS’, said the project was a one-year collaboration between NHRC and the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai in the USA.
She said the aim of the project was to improve the management of NCDs at the CHPS level in Ghana, adding that the formative study gathered the views of community members and health workers at the CHPS and district levels on managing depression and hypertension, and the challenges they encountered.
“From the qualitative interviews, community members expressed the gap in the management of depression and hypertension and the urgent need for such services at the community level.”
The Project Coordinator said findings from the formative study would guide the implementation of a pilot study to test the feasibility of managing depression and hypertension at the CHPS level using supervised CHOs and CHVs.
Madam Irene Kuwolamo, a Health Research Officer at the NHRC, also told the journalists that the Centre was implementing a project dubbed “It takes a village,” to test an intervention to encourage expectant mothers and their families to seek modern Ante-Natal Care (ANC) services.
She said the project was implemented in five healthcare facilities in the Bolgatanga Municipality, Talensi, Tempane and Garu Districts with Field Officers stationed in selected facilities in the districts to enroll the expectant mothers on to the project.
Madam Kuwolamo said the 18-month project was a partnership between the NHRC, the University of Ghana and the University of Berkeley in the United States of America (USA), which started in June 2021 and was expected to end by December 2022.
She said per the WHO’s recommendations, pregnant women were expected to start ANC early and receive at least a minimum of four Ante-Natal visits, noting that many pregnant women in Ghana still started late, failed to meet the recommendations which sometimes affected them and led to negative outcomes.
Madam Kuwolamo attributed some of the factors of the delay to traditional beliefs, influences from family relations and lack of motivation for the expectant mothers from both the community and family.
She said the NHRC had initiated community durbars, phone calls and home visits as interventions to encourage more pregnant women to attend ANC.