One hundred and ten (110) Buruli ulcer and 40 yaws cases have been recorded in the Upper Manya Krobo District in the Eastern region since 2017 to 2022, according to the District Health Directorate.

Buruli ulcer Lymphatic Filariases, Onchocerciasis, trachoma, Leprosi, Yaws among others are Neglected Tropical diseases (NTDs) that prevail in impoverished communities in tropical areas.

They are caused by pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and toxin.

NTDs affects more than one billion people worldwide with estimated 25 million people in Ghana at risk.

Unfortunately, low level of awareness, poor sanitation and hygiene, and lack of access to safe water continue to increase vulnerability risk to NTDs across the country.

Upper Manya Krobo District is one of such areas battling to curb some NTDs cases.

Many of the patients with NTDs are dying in herbal and spiritual centers including prayer camps and shrines due to superstitious belief that the diseases are spiritual.

A visit to Lord’s Miracles chapel International a Prayer camp in Asesewa community, observed an old man suffering from Buruli ulcer and Lymphatic Filariasis has been admitted for both herbal and spiritual treatment.

However, his condition continue to deteriorate as the leg and penis rotting away.

The owner of the prayer camp however said he has not prevented any of the sick people at the prayer camp from accessing medical care.

Hagar Amankwah, Disease Control Officer for Upper Manya Krobo tells Starr News the high level of superstition among residents on NTDs is affecting effort to identify and treat cases.

“Let me say about 90% claim it is spiritual not medical wise so they resort to the prayer camps for treatment so when we are able to get access to those places before we talk to that is not spiritual so let’s treat you. We have to talk to the managers of the camps for them to accept us because you know they also have to eat,” she said.

A Chief in Asesewa community Nene Sipim Olesu says many families see Buruli Ulcer in particular as a shameful curse therefore patients’ with the condition are hidden by their families.

Global targets for 2030 and milestones are set out to prevent, control, eliminate and eradicate a diverse set of 20 diseases and disease groups of NTDs.

Meanwhile, an NGO, Ark Development Organization (ADO) in collaboration with Ghana Health Service with funding support from Anesvad Foundation have launched “Partnership for Elimination of Skin-NTDs” in some selected districts.

Executive Director of Ark Development Organization (ADO) Emmanuel Kwarfo Mintah said the two year project which focuses on four Skin-NTDs: Buruli Ulcer, Leprosy, Yaws and Lymphatic Filiriasis will be implemented in Upper Manya Krobo, Suhum, Fanteakwa North and West Akim districts.

“In Ghana, Neglected Tropical Diseases have been a major health challenge for years and continue to affect all aspects of our productive lives. As part of the mitigation, elimination and eradication plan, Ark Development Organization, in partnership with 4-H Ghana and Youth Aid Initiative with funding support from Anesvad Foundation and in collaboration with Ghana Health Service, District Assemblies, Traditional Leaders and other Stakeholders, come together to help reach #forgotten people in forgotten places under this project within the space of 24 months.”

Emmanuel Kwarfo Mintah further explained  that” the project is focused on improving prevention through community education, improving accessibility to healthcare services, improving community water and sanitation, and improving planning, management and monitoring of health systems to fight skin NTDs in an integrated manner. In this regard, we will be sensitizing the communities on skin NTDs to clear off myths and misconceptions and reduce stigmatization, support patients with skin NTDs to access appropriate and adequate medication and treatment, undertake training and capacity building of volunteers and beneficiaries, undertake case search and management, train unemployed skin-NTD patients with employable skills, facilitate dialogues on the provision of WASH facilities among others.”

Upper Manya Krobo District Health Director Mrs Esther Dua Oyinka said the project will help address treatment challenges that confront the directorate.

“For Leprosy we’ve not recorded any case since 2017 but for Buruli ulcer we recorded 110 cases from 2017 to 2022 and for Yaws we have recorded 40 cases. These are not all they are in their homes .They are in the communities. Some are attributing it to some spiritual something and people are suffering from conditions which can be effectively managed. These project will therefore help us identify more cases and address treatment challenges that we have,” Mrs. Esther Dua Oyinka said.

Source: Ghana/ Ansah