Ghana could be declared trachoma- free by September this year as pre-validation survey analysis continues. Efforts are also being made to curtail other neglected tropical diseases to the barest minimum in the country.
Sixty- nine (69) out of the 98 districts in Ghana have already become elephantiasis-free zones following introduction of the annual mass drug administration some years back.
“If you refuse to take the drugs, you will invite the disease into your body because they fight parasites to prevent blindness”.
That is an admonition from Deputy Programmes Manager of Neglected Tropical Diseases, Dr. Kofi Marfo, at the launch in Kumasi of this year’s mass drug administration campaign.
“The drugs destroy the worms that would affect part of the system called lymphatic vessel or lymphatic vascular system which normally plays a very big role in food balance”. He indicated.
The disease he referred to is river blindness or onchocerciasis, one of eleven neglected tropical diseases prevalent in Ghana, and the preventive drugs are ivermectin and albendazole.
It is transmitted by parasite-carrying flies which cause loss of sight if their sting goes untreated.
One-sixth of the world’s population, especially, in rural areas with no access to safe water and good sanitation, is susceptible to neglected tropical diseases.
Deputy Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Gloria Quansah Asare, said up to 40% of infected individuals have kidney damage adding that, the economic impact of the diseases cost the country millions of dollars.
“In many surveyed countries, deworming is estimated to increase average adult income by 40%. Each case of Schistosomiasis causes a loss of 45.4 days of work per year.” He said. Other neglected diseases found in Ghana include trachoma, elephantiasis and bilharzia.
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