The Ghana Health Service (GHS) last Saturday held a health walk as part of activities towards the celebration of the World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Day in Ghana.
Dubbed: “Act now, Act together: Invest in Neglected Tropical Diseases”, the walk was aimed at raising awareness and sensitising the public to the neglected tropical diseases prevalent in the country.
The walk focused attention on lymphatic filariasis, soil transmitted helminthiasis, buruli ulcer, yaws, leprosy, guinea worm, human African trypanosomiasis, cutaneous leishmaniosis and others.
The NTD Day, created in 2021 to be celebrated on January 30 every year, is to create better awareness of the devastating impact of NTDs on the poorest populations around the world.
The day is also an opportunity to call on everyone to support the growing momentum for the control, elimination and eradication of these diseases.
The walk started from the head office of the National Aids Control Programme at Korle Bu, and continued through the streets of James Town to the Ghana Health Service headquarters in the neighbourhood of the ministries in Accra.
The Programme Manager of the NTDs Programme, Dr Kofi Asemanyi-Mensah, said there was a need to create awareness of these diseases, stressing that the dangers associated with them were worrisome, adding that they curtailed the livelihoods of the people living with those conditions.
“It is worrisome because when you have such conditions your capacity to engage in your normal activities is lost. People’s livelihood are threatened,” he said.
He added that over the past few years, the awareness of such diseases had minimised, and that there was the need to create awareness, especially to those in the endemic areas, so that they became aware of what to do and what to look out for.
“We want to act now because we have delayed our actions. So we need to act now, act together and invest in Neglected Tropical Diseases so that by 2030 all these will be a thing of the past,” he said.
Dr Asemanyi-Mensah further stated that although the NTDs Programme, through the GHS, was doing its best to eliminate and reduce tropical diseases in the country, the greater responsibility was in the hands of the public and citizens to join hands and support to meet the target of eliminating tropical diseases by 2030.
He advised the public not to stigmatise people living with such conditions, but to rather sympathise with them and help in any way possible.
“It is a normal disease, so we need to sympathise with these people and give them the needed attention so they live normal lives,” he said.
The Programme Manager of the National Leprosy Control Programme of the GHS, Dr Benedict Okoe Quao, said the country had made a lot of progress against neglected tropical diseases, stressing that there had been reduction in conditions like guinea worm and trachoma, while efforts were still being made to eliminate others like leprosy.
Dr Quao cautioned the public that regardless of the country’s progress, tropical diseases were still in the system, and that there was the need to quickly report any oddity on the skin to the nearest health facility.