The community of Osenase, nestled in the West Akyem municipality of Ghana’s Eastern Region, is facing a concerning surge in suspected cases of yaws, particularly among children. This farming and mining community has become a focal point for stakeholders striving to address the prevalence of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and improve overall health outcomes.
Dr. Samuel Boateng, the West Akyem Municipal Health Director, has confirmed the alarming prevalence of yaws in Osenase, with children under 15 years old bearing the brunt of the disease. “Most school-age children less than 15 years old have yaws. Yaw’s prevalence is high here. We have identified a lot so we are doing screening and then based on the screening outcome, we give them treatment,” Dr. Samuel Boateng disclosed.
Community leaders, such as Regent of Osenase Nana Asiamah and Assemblymember Goodwin Pobee, have voiced concerns about the broader health, sanitation, and hygiene challenges, including pollution of river bodies due to illegal mining activities attributing to the cause of yaws cases among children.
Yaws, a bacterial infection primarily transmitted through person-to-person contact, poses significant health risks if left untreated, often resulting in chronic disfigurement and disability. With peak incidence occurring among children aged 6–10 years old, the situation in Osenase therefore calls for the urgent need for comprehensive health interventions.
Efforts to combat yaws and other skin NTDs in the Osenase community include intensive screening and treatment interventions targeted at the affected population Stakeholders, led by Ark Development Organization (ADO) and Ghana Health Service (GHS) have rallied support for the community through the implementation of the “Partnership for the Eradication of Skin NTDs Project.”
This two-year initiative, funded by the Anesvad Foundation, focuses on addressing the prevalence of yaws and other skin NTDs not only in Osenase communities but also in four districts namely West Akyem, Upper Manya Krobo, Suhum and Fanteakwa North.
Emmanuel Kwarfo Minta, Executive Director of the Ark Development Organization, said, in response to the growing health crisis, over 40 health volunteers have been trained and deployed to conduct surveillance and identify cases of skin NTDs for free treatment. As of the third quarter of 2023, a total of 891 new suspected cases of Skin NTDs have been identified in targeted districts.
Kwarfo Minta highlighted the multifaceted nature of Skin NTDs and their link to poverty. He said the project’s holistic approach therefore includes not only medical interventions but also initiatives aimed at providing safe drinking water and economic empowerment to communities affected by these diseases.
He stated that the concerted efforts of stakeholders aim to alleviate the burden of yaws and other NTDs, ensuring a healthier future for the residents in the project districts. Wellness clinics are also being championed in the community for the detection of non-communication diseases among the farming and mining population for medical intervention.
Source: Ghana/Starrfm.com.gh/103.5FM/Kojo Ansah