Approximately 891 suspected cases of Skin Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) have been identified, prompting stakeholders to call on the government for increased funding to intensify the fight against this debilitating group of diseases. This call was made during a Regional Health Forum organized by Ark Development Organization (ADO) and Anesvad Foundation, in collaboration with Ghana Health Service (GHS) in Koforidua.
Stakeholders expressed worry that funding for activities combatting Skin-NTDs has heavily relied on short-term grants from foreign donors. This dependency makes it challenging to sustain progress made in reducing the prevalence of these diseases among impoverished communities. The forum served as a platform to discuss practical measures to ensure clean water access and promote a hygienic environment in the battle against Skin NTDs.
The “Partnership for the Eradication of Skin NTDs Project,” a two-year initiative by Ark Development Organization and Anesvad Foundation, focused on Buruli Ulcer, Leprosy, Yaws, and Lymphatic Filariasis in Upper Manya Krobo, Suhum, Fanteakwa North, and West Akim municipalities. Emmanuel Kwarfo Mintah, Executive Director of Ark Development Organization, reported that 891 new suspected cases were identified in the first quarter through community surveillance, with Suhum recording the highest cases.
“This activity has raised awareness of skin NTDs in the intervention communities and beyond. Through community surveillance by our volunteers, 891 suspected cases comprising of 321 yaws, 177 BU, 58 leprosy, 35 lf, and 301 other skin diseases such as warts and rashes were recorded as at the end of the third quarter. 358 (41%) of the total cases were recorded in Suhum, 207 in West Akim, 204 in the Fanteakwa North, and 122 in the upper Manya Krobo district,” said Emmanuel Kwarfo Mintah.
He added, “The recorded cases were referred and followed by the Project management PMT and Disease control officers to ensure suspected cases receive medical services. All identified clients were given medical advice and psychosocial support through counselling. They have also been supported for treatment, some recovered while the remaining are still receiving treatment.”
Mr. Christian Fiador, Eastern Regional NTDs Coordinator, highlighted the region’s wait for confirmation results for precision medical intervention, urging the public to report symptoms and suspected cases to health facilities.
Stakeholders also addressed challenges faced during the project, including the inadequate capacity of health facilities, poor road networks, and delays in test confirmations from Nuguchi. The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) was called upon to secure inclusive health insurance services to alleviate the financial burden on affected households.
Within the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) component of the project, 725 teachers and pupils received education on personal hygiene and sanitation. Plans for mechanized boreholes in each district aim to improve access to clean water. Dr. Samuel Boateng, West Akyem Municipal Director of Health, praised the initiative for its positive impact.
The forum concluded with stakeholders committing to overcoming challenges and continuing collaborative efforts in the fight against Skin NTDs. Globally affecting an estimated 1 billion people, with 25 million individuals impacted in Ghana, Skin NTDs disproportionately affect vulnerable populations, leading to stigmatization, neglect, and economic hardships.
Source: Ghana/Starrfm.com.gh/103.5FM/Kojo Ansah