The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has launched the 2022 National Mass Drug Administration (MDA) in Kumasi to fight the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), especially human Onchocerciasis.
The MDAs, scheduled from April 28 to 29, beyond the endemic communities have targeted 77 who will received 13 million of mass drug distribution within the affected areas.
More than 10 million people are expected to take the drugs in this year’s implementation of the NTD program.
Dr Kofi Asemanyi-Mensah, the NTD Program Manager, who launched the MDA on the theme “Acheiving Health Equity to End the Neglect of Poverty Related Diseases”, said the program’s implementation forms part of eliminating Onchocerciasis or river blindness by the year 2025
Ghana remains endemic to the hman onchocerciasis, a disease of the skin and eye caused by Onchocerca volvulus, a parasitic worm transmitted by Simulium species (blackflies) that breed in fast-flowing rivers and streams.
Some of the infected river basins are found in the Pra, Offin, Afram, Bia, and Bui-Black Volta rivers.
The disease, one of the 20 NTDs in Ghana, is also endemic in 30 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, three countries in Latin America, and Yemen.
But the World Health Organization has verified the three countries in Latin America as free of human onchocerciasis since 2013.
Dr Kofi Asemanyi-Mensah explained that over one billion people globally suffer from one or more NTDs that cause disability, severe disfigurement, and blindness.
“These diseases affect the world’s most vulnerable population with devastating and lifelong disabilities that contribute to trapping individuals, families, and even entire communities in poverty”, he said.
He added, the Ghana Health Services resolve to embark on its prevention and control, which is central to ending extreme poverty in the next two decades.
The NTD Program Manager said the approach in combating the Onchocerciasis/river blindness would be by using drugs that have been proven safe and effective, which can be delivered by trained non-health personnel to affected communities.
“This approach known as Mass Drug Administration provides a single dose medication to all eligible individuals once or twice a year”, he explained, adding, “implemented over seven years, the MDA can significantly control the burden of NTDs, and in some cases, elimination can be achieved”.
While expressing the Health Service appreciation to all health workers, community drug distributors, and other volunteers for their continuous dedication to the elimination of the NTDs, the Program Manager, Dr Kofi Asemanyi-Mensah, also urged stakeholders to encourage all eligible persons on the need for the drugs in the fight against Onchocerciasis and other NTDs.
He believes it will ensure the plague is purged from the affected communities to enable them to go about their normal activities.
In a speech delivered by the Deputy Director General at the Ghana Health Service, Dr Anthony Adofo Ofosu, said the geographical conditions and features of the hitherto, some parts of the country have been conducive for the transmission of some of the NTDs including Elephantiasis, Bilharzia, and Buruli ulcer.
He noted that successive governments are fully aware that a healthy workforce is a productive labour in nation-building, hence prioritising health and huge allocation of resources to support the delivery of quality health care.
Dr Anthony Adofo appealed to the media to offer their platforms for messages of the benefits of the Onchocerciasis MDA to be communicated to the citizenry.
He, however, assured that the government and the Ghana Health Service remains resolute in its commitment to ensuring the total eradication of the Onchocerciasis and other NTDs.
The participants at the launched included some health professionals, governmental agencies including Ghana Education Service and the Information Services Department, Religious Leaders, and Partners in Health.
*Akwadaa Nyame/Silver FM*