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Ghana’s Northern Region is Training to Fight Anemia

SPRING, GHS training of District Health Staff on anemia curriculum in Tamale. Taken during a session on iron-, vitamin A- and vitamin C-rich food.

Anemia remains a severe public health problem in Ghana, with 65.7% of children under five and 42.4% of women in reproductive age (WRA) suffering from anemia, according to the 2014 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey report (GDHS). The Northern Region is more severely affected, with 82.1% and 47.5%, respectively, of children under five and WRA suffering from anemia. The Ghana Health Service (GHS) recognizes that one of the main reasons for high prevalence of anemia is the less-than-optimal capacity of the health facility personnel and community health volunteers (CHV) to prevent and treat anemia within the health system and in the community. Through SPRING’s initiative and support from the GHS, a comprehensive resource package for capacity building in anemia has been developed for Ghana.

A rollout of this package commenced with the GHS and SPRING training a cadre of master trainers at the regional level. The master trainers were expected to further train district-level teams, who would then travel across the district, training their colleagues in the facilities and health volunteers in the communities. The training curriculum is provided in three manuals: a how-to guide for health workers to train their colleagues (Health Worker Training Manual for Anemia Control) and two informational manuals for participants of district-level training workshops for health workers (Health Worker Participant Manual for Anemia Control) and community health volunteers (Community Health Volunteer Manual). Health workers and community health volunteers play complementary roles in the community implementation of various anemia interventions, and there are many opportunities for them to work together that have been underutilized. The training curriculum leverages these opportunities by having the health worker train the community health volunteer.

To date, 560 health workers and 160 CHVs have been trained in SPRING districts. Feedback from the trainings has been used to improve the content of the training manual, which is now in its final stage of review and formatting for printing. The manuals have been approved by the GHS to be used not just in the 15 SPRING target districts but across Ghana.