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The development of a capacity-strengthening program to promote self-care practices among people with lymphatic filariasis-related lymphedema in the Upper West Region of Ghana
Abstract Background The Upper West region of Ghana is mostly made up of rural communities and is highly endemic for lymphatic filariasis (LF), with a significant burden of disability due to lymphedema and hydrocele. The aim of this paper is to describe an enhanced, evidence-based cascading training program for integrated lymphedema management in this region, and to present some initial outcomes. Main text A baseline evaluation in the Upper West Region was carried out in 2019. A cascaded training program was designed and implemented, followed by a roll-out of self-care activities in all 72 sub-districts of the Upper West Region. A post implementation evaluation in 2020 showed that patients practiced self-care more frequently and with more correct techniques than before the training program; they were supported in this by health staff and family members. Conclusions Self-care for lymphedema is feasible and a program of short workshops in this cascaded training program led to significant improvements. Efforts to maintain momentum and sustain what has been achieved so far, will include regular training and supervision to improve coverage, the provision of adequate resources for limb care at home, and the maintenance of district registers of lymphedema cases, which must be updated regularly.