Mass Drug Administration (MDA) against Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) has been launched in Sunyani in the Bono Regional Capital.
The launch was to create public awareness on the devastation and lifelong effect of NTDs on the most vulnerable population, and also entreat stakeholders to marshal efforts and knowledge at their disposal to break transmission in hotspots communities.
NTDs contribute to poverty and impair intellectual development in children, reduce school enrollment and hinder economic productivity by limiting the ability of infected individuals to work.
Dr. Yao Yeboah, the chairman of Ghana Health Service Governing Council, noted that 98 districts which were endemic for Lymphatic filariasis have the transmission broken in 83 districts.
He said currently 85% coverage has been achieved but 15 districts remain endemic, six months to the target year. "We are yet to break transmission and each district has received more than 12 rounds of Mass Drug Administration (MAD) but repeatedly these Districts have tainted to break the transmission."
The 15 hotspots districts include Nabdam and Kassena-Nankana West in the Upper East Region; Lawra, Jirapa, Wa West and West-East in the Upper West Region and Bole, Sawla-Tuna Kalba, West and North Gonja in the Savannah Region. The rest are Ahanta West, Nzema East and Ellembelle in the Western Region and Sunyani West in the Bono Region.
Dr. Yao Yeboah noted that Ghana Health Service and its partners are pushing the target date for the elimination of the disease forward in the remaining 15 districts from 2020 to 2025 to allow for more time to get rid of the disease completely.
Touching on the theme for this year, "Improving MDA in all Endemic Districts" he entreats stakeholders to marshal efforts and knowledge at their disposal so that transmission would be broken in the remaining 15 Lymphatic Filariasis hotspots.
In this regards, an institution like the United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) would have to intensify its advocacy with key partners in the fight against NTDs.
The Chairman of the GHS Governing Council noted that lack of awareness, unsafe health practices, close contact with infection vectors and limited access to safe water and sanitation were the challenges facing GHS in the fight against NTDs.
Dr. Benjamin Kofi Marfo, the programme manager of NTDs, said GHS was focused on the identification of cases, help partners mobilize funds for the management of cases, mapping cases and bringing together members of communities as partners.