The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has launched a mass drug administration (MDA) initiative aimed at eradicating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), specifically onchocerciasis (river blindness) and lymphatic filariasis (LF or elephantiasis), by 2030.

This year’s campaign targets 6.2 million people in Ghana, focusing on 77 onchocerciasis-endemic areas and three (3) LF-endemic districts.

During the launch in Koforidua on Monday June 10, 2024, Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, Director General of GHS, emphasized in a speech read on his behalf by Director of Public Health, Dr Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe, that severe impact of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), include disability, disfigurement, and blindness, which lead to social stigma and economic hardship.

Dr Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe

He said in Ghana, 140 districts are endemic for onchocerciasis (river blindness), and Lymphatic filariases, (elephantiasis) is endemic in 116 districts.

However, Lymphativ filariases transmission has been interrupted in 109 of these districts, leaving only seven still affected.

The Mass Drug Administration (MDA) involves administering single-dose medication to eligible individuals, with the aim of interrupting disease transmission and ultimately achieving eradication

Dr. Patrick Kuma Aboagye said the MDA program, which integrates community efforts and medicine distribution, is crucial in reaching the 2030 eradication goals.

“The NTDS program is implementing this year’s mass drug administration in 77 Onchorcichias endemic areas targeted at reaching about 5.8 million Ghanaians and three (3) LF endemic districts targeting 440,000 people,” Dr. Patrick Kuma Aboagye said.

He “encouraged all eligible persons to partake in the exercise to eliminate the diseases”.

Eastern Regional Health Director Dr. Winfred Ofosu outlined plans for drug administration in specific districts in the region namely Afram Plains North and South and Kwahu East.

He also said measures to address misconceptions and adverse drug reactions also in place

“There will be community engagement and training of community based distributors. Medicines will be given to them and the health team will support and supervise them to make sure that all the illegible peopled receive this medicines. Health promotion officers they are going to do community sensitization, there will be a lot of Radio programs to make sure that communities are well informed about this program.”

Eastern Regional Minister Seth Keame Acheampong acknowledged contribution of funding partners.He added  government and the Ghana Health Service will continue to strengthen collaboration with all relevant agencies and stakeholders with the aim of exploring all three strategies as mentioned earlier so that together many of these NTDs could be eliminated.

Ghana’s mass drug administration initiative received commendation from the World Health Organization for its previous high coverage and is expected to make significant strides towards eliminating these debilitating diseases.

Source: Ghana/ Ansah