11 January 2018

Liberia: Health Crisis Looms in Grand Kru?

Dr. Kateh: "Even though the disease is communicable, it can be treated."

The lack of a health facility in Forpoh Parluken has raised serious concern in Grand Kru County that a health crisis is imminent if nothing is done to address the situation, state-owned ELBC has reported.

Forpoh Parluken District Superintendent, Francis Ylatwen, disclosed that because of the unavailability of a health center, residents, including pregnant women and sick children, usually travel for miles over rough roads to access health services in other catchment communities.

As a result, the county health team has reportedly started taking medical care to the people by way of a "mobile clinic project." Instead of waiting for patients to come to them, medical practitioners are traveling to communities to treat the sick, including those with malaria, which is reportedly prevalent in the area.

In a related development, Liberia's Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Francis Nah Kateh, who confirmed an outbreak of a strange skin disease in five counties recently, has attributed the cause to 'infestation... not infection' as it was being reported.

Kateh diagnosed the condition as 'scabies,' which he said can be contracted through humans, "because it is contagious and marked by intense itching, inflammation, and red papules."

The counties where the skin condition is prevalent are Montserrado, Bong, Margibi, Nimba and Grand Bassa.

Dr. Kateh defines infestation as the state of being invaded or overrun by pests or parasites, which he said can also refer to the actual organisms living on or within a host (a victim).

"In general, the term 'infestation' refers to a parasitic disease caused by pests such as arthropods (mites, ticks, and lice) and worms, but excludes conditions caused by protozoa, fungi, bacteria, and viruses, which are called 'infections'," he told the Daily Observer late Tuesday via mobile phone.

He said infestations can be classified as either external or internal with regards to the parasites' location in relation to the host.

"Infectious diseases, also known as transmissible or communicable diseases, are illnesses resulting from an infection," the CMO told this newspaper.

He advised residents to practice personal hygiene, which he says plays a significant role in combating the skin disease. He also prescribed calamine lotion, Whitefield cream or any other antibiotic ointment to treat the condition.

As for the situation reported in Grand Kru, Kateh assured the residents that health authorities are working with partners to remedy it, but did not say how soon, though he maintained that the situation was on the Ministry of Health's active file for consideration.


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