The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the country free from human African trypanosomiasis,also known as sleeping sickness.
The WHO Country Representative, Dr. Francis Kasolo, announced this at the commemoration of World NTDs Day in Accra yesterday.
This brings to three, the number of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) the country has eliminated through collaborated efforts with partners.
In 2015, thecountry received validation for the elimination of Guinea worm and in 2018, it was declared free from Trachoma.
Currently, Ghana is endemic for 14 out of the 20 NTDs, with every district having at least two NTDs prevalence.
Dr. Kasolo lauded the health service for the feat achieved in the fight against NTDs, but was quick to call for the allocation of adequate resources moving forward, to break further transmissions and attain elimination.
“For effective control and elimination of the NTDs that are endemic in Ghana, there need to be an improved healthcare services operating in an efficient health system with well-managed supply chain management which ensures universal access to quality assured medicines,” he said.
Deputy Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Anthony Adofo Ofosu, said most NTDs do not kill, however its debilitating effects had huge socio-economic impact.
“NTDs perpetuate a cycle of poor educational outcomes and limited professional opportunities and are associated with stigma and social exclusion,” he said.
Dr. Ofosu said everyone has a key role to play, adding, “by bringing renewed attention to NTDs, building political will and mobilising resources, and putting individuals and communities at the centre of the response, we can collectively generate the attention and resources needed to deliver against the targets outlined in the WHO 2030 NTDs road map and SDG3.”
Instituted four years ago, NTD Day is to mobilise political will and commitment towards eliminating some ‘ancient’ diseases that continue to pose a public health threat to the world.
This year’s celebration is on the theme: “Act Now, Act Together, Invest in NTDs”. It calls for intensified efforts to ensure access to treatment and care for all persons affected with NTDs and increase surveillance for diseases earmarked for elimination.
The new global NTDs roadmap (2021-2030)requires that 100 countries eliminate at least one NTD by 2030 with all others decreasing the number of people requiring NTDs interventions by 90 percent by 2030.
African trypanosomiasis or sleeping sickness is caused by parasites of genus Trypanosoma, transmitted by infected tsetse flies and is endemic in 36 sub-Saharan African countries where there are tsetse flies that transmit the disease.
Without diagnosis and treatment, the disease is considered 100 percent fatal.
The people most exposed to the tsetse fly and to the disease live in rural areas and depend on agriculture, fishing, animal husbandry or hunting.
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri