Government and the people of Ghana are embarking on a drive to clear the country off, all neglected tropical disease which has become endemic across the country, especially YAWS.

Yaws
Yaws

Yaws is a chronic infection that affects mainly the skin, bone and cartilage. The causative organism is a bacterium called?Treponema pertenue, a subspecies of?Treponema pallidum that causes venereal syphilis. However, yaws is a non-venereal infection.

The disease occurs mainly in poor communities in warm, humid tropical areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Almost 75% of people affected are children under 15 years, although peak incidence occurs in children between the ages 6-10.

Experts believe that yaws can easily be controlled and possibly eradicated as the disease occurs only in humans. Past experience has showed that elimination is possible in many countries. More recently, India eliminated yaws with no new cases since 2004.

The ulcers and sores which are often painless often leave ugly scars and cause various deformities which also lead to social stigma and isolation of sufferers.

Statistics from the GHS reveals that the disease is prevalent in all Districts of Ghana particularly, among the poorest communities in the Eastern, Volta, Western, Central, Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions.

The current national prevalence is estimated at 700 per 100,000 children below the age of five, and the literature suggests that Ghana?s neighboring countries including Togo, Burkina Faso and Cote d?Ivoire still harbours the disease too.

In Ghana, Mr. Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, Minister of Health, has called for massive support and collaboration of all stakeholders in the fight against Yaws.

To this effect, the Health Minister charged the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to develop a comprehensive plan to achieve this goal before the end of the year 2016.

He called upon Regional and District Directors of Health Services, the media, all professionals as well as all communities and community volunteers in the field to help fight the disease with fury.

Mr. Bagbin, made the call at the launch of the Yaws eradication drive in Accra, where he noted that the revealed presence of the disease, which was thought to have been eradicated years ago in Ghana, was unacceptable and if left unchecked, is bound to place a dent on ?our emerging reputation as a middle income country?.

Mr Bagbin said it was however welcoming news that the germ that causes Yaws could be cleared with just one injection of Azinthromycin penicillin and an intensified education of personal hygiene and therefore the argument for eradication was strong and needed a sustained commitment to achieve that goal.

He noted that neglected tropical diseases unfortunately, constitute a huge burden in Ghana and in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole as they do not only occur as a result of poverty, but that they actually precipitate and intensify poverty mainly among poor countries and marginalized communities.

The Health Ministry, he said, was, therefore, increasingly looking for ingenious ways of healthcare delivery for the Ghanaian populace and of investing in the rigorous control of indigenous diseases.

Hon. Bagbin said some of these diseases had been totally eradicated in the developed world, but? in Ghana and, indeed, in? sub-Saharan Africa, these diseases remained very important as they did not occur as a result of poverty, but rather actually precipitated and intensified poverty.

He declared the total commitment of government and the MOH and pledged to personally lead the crusade against the totally eradication of Yaw and other neglected tropical diseases.

On his part, Mr Yaw Brobbey-Mpiani, Deputy Director in Charge of Administration at the GHS, explained that Yaws is spread by skin contact and daily bathing effectively prevents the germ from spreading.

He said although the disease does not kill, but like many chronic diseases of its kind, it develops slowly and painless in the body, targeting mostly children though everybody can be affected.

According to Mr Brobbey, the current national prevalence is estimated at 700 per 100,000 children under 15 years and the literature suggests that neighboring countries like Togo, Burkina Faso and Cote d? Ivoire still harbour the disease.

He said the disease was spread by skin contact but daily bathing effectively prevented it from spreading.

?Now with a highly decentralised system where we have about one thousand sub-districts all over the country manned by health professionals and supported by community volunteers in all communities, the delivery system is greatly facilitated,? he added.

It is noted that, Ghana?s set target of achieving its millennium development goal of reducing poverty may not be achieved if some tropical diseases which affect the people and the economy are not eradicated.Ghana is one of the major endemic countries in West Africa. The disease is prevalent in some rural communities with the Eastern, Central and Western regions being the most affected.

Yaws is treatable and it is expected to be eradicated completely by 2017.?HELP, AND LET?S SAY GOODBYE TO YAWS!

 

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