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Female Genital Schistosomiasis causes infertility as prevalence hits 50%

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Dr. Joseph Kwadwo Larbi Opare, the Program Manager for Neglected Tropical Diseases at Ghana Health Service (GHS), revealed that the prevalence of Female Genital Schistosomiasis (FGS) in the country ranges from 10% to 50% among women, while about 1% of men are affected. The condition can lead to serious reproductive health problems, including infertility in women and, though less common, sterility in men.

The condition can lead to serious reproductive health problems, including infertility in women and, though less common, sterility in men. FGS is often overlooked in medical practice. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 56 million girls and women in sub-Saharan Africa are affected by this Female Genital Schistosomiasis (FGS) condition, which can cause pelvic inflammation, fallopian tube obstruction, and other serious morbidities.

The infection is common in rural areas where women engage in activities like washing clothes in infested waters. Symptoms of FGS include vaginal bleeding, bleeding during intercourse, genital itching or burning, pelvic pain, and pain during intercourse. Complications can be severe, leading to infertility, ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages, involuntary urination, genital ulcers, and tumours.

Additionally, FGS can increase the risk of acquiring other sexually transmitted diseases. Speaking to GHOne News in Koforidua at the sidelines of the Regional Neglected Tropical Diseases Advocacy town hall meeting sponsored by World Vision, Dr. Joseph Kwadwo Opare, Program Manager NTDs at Ghana Health Service said, FGS requires extensive education and awareness among healthcare workers and the general population, therefore, efforts are being made to integrate FGS education into daily health activities and training curricula for health professionals.

This aims to improve diagnosis and treatment, thereby reducing the burden of this neglected tropical disease. “It has been proven that we have a prevalence of 10 to 50 % of female genital schistosomiases in Ghana. Ultimately this condition can lead to infertility and the male can also be sterile. For the males it is just about 1% so it is not too many” said Dr. Opare.

He added “FGS is a silent area in medicine and we are trying to do much education on this so at the national level there is a committee overseeing FGS activities. We are trying to make sure that this education is incorporated in our daily activities among health workers and even non-health workers. In addition, go into the curriculum of many training institutions so that when we get this education when they complete school they can leverage on that and practice how to prevent it”.

Ghana like many countries in the tropics is not immune to NTDs. Of the 20 NTDs identified by the WHO, 14 are found in Ghana, with prominent among them being trachoma; Buruli ulcer; yaws; leprosy; human African trypanosomiasis (HAT or sleeping sickness); leishmaniases; lymphatic filariasis; onchocerciasis (river blindness); schistosomiasis, and soil-transmitted helminthiases.

Eastern Regional Director of GHS, Dr. Winfred Ofosu said through collaboration with two NGOs, hundreds of suspected NTD cases have been identified in recent years in the region. He however said that stigmatization and misconception about the disease attributed to spiritual causes affect the fight hence urging traditional leaders to get involved in the awareness creation.

Inadequate has been identified as a major obstacle affecting Ghana’s effort to meet the WHO 2030 NTD road map and Sustainable Development Goals 3 target. Rev. Dr. Joyce Aryee, Ghana’s NTD Ambassador called for multi multi-sectoral approach to support the fight against NTDs which she says has serious implications for health, food security, education, and the economy at large.

Source: Ghana /Starrfm.com.gh/Kojo Ansah

 

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