A national mass drug administration against Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) has been launched with the aim to reduce its prevalence in the country by 2030.
NTDs has been a group of 20 infectious and parasitic diseases which affect over one billion people worldwide, most of whom live in extreme poverty.
They include Lymphatic Filariasis (elephantiasis), Onchocerciasis, Schistomiasis, Soil Transmitted Helminthes, Trachoma, Buruli ulcer, Dracunculiasis, Leprosy and Rabies – which have severely debilitating and disabling effect.
NTDs are more endemic in poor communities, promote poverty and intense stigma, and concentrated in remote rural areas, urban slums or conflict zones.
Launching the programme under the theme, “Achieving Health Equity to End the Neglect of Poverty Related Diseases,” Deputy Director General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Anthony Ofosu was worried about the country still being endemic with the diseases such as Lymphatic Filariasis (elephantiasis) and Onchocerciasis.
As part of measures to eliminate the NTDs, he said that programmes have been rolled out for mass drug administration in 77 Onchocerciasis endemic districts, targeting 12.6 million people and four Lymphatic Filariasis districts also targeting about 440,000 individuals.
Preventing and controlling NTDs, he noted, “Is central to ending extreme poverty in the next two decades.”
He urged eligible persons to be concerned about the need to fight against Onchocerciasis, Lymphatic Filariasis and all other NTDs to rid the society of the infections.
In a presentation, Dr Kofi Asemanyi, NTD Programme Manager indicated that Lymphatic Filariasis was endemic in 114 endemic districts in the country, stressing that all regions except Ahafo, Oti, Volta and Ashanti, were affected.
He mentioned insecurity during field visits, cross border issues, population movement, synchronising activities with neighbouring countries, retirement of highly skilled staff, and low political commitment as some challenges being faced.
Dr Asemanyi, therefore, called for synchronisation of municipal and district assemblies with neighbouring countries as well as strengthening monitoring and supervision, especially in remote areas, going forward.
He further stressed the need for research evidence to guide hot spots and a formal request for police service security in some areas.
On staff retirement, he called recruitment of some category of staff to strengthen monitoring and supervision, especially at remote areas.
FROM KINGSLEY E.HOPE, KUMASI