About 12.6 million people nationwide are to be administered drugs to protect them against Onchocerciasis, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director-General (DG) of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has disclosed.
The targeted people are spread across 70 endemic districts, he said in a speech read on his behalf at the national launch of the Mass Drug Administration (MDA) against Onchocerciasis in Sunyani.
Onchocerciasis (river blindness) is among the five endemic Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) including lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis), Trachoma, Schistosomiasis (bilharzia) in the country.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye emphasised the nation’s determination to eliminate the disease by 2030, saying preventing and controlling NTDs remained central to ending extreme poverty in the next two decades.
Under the theme “Face NTDs, End the Neglect through Effective and Quality MDAs”, the GHS has scheduled the MDAs for August 9 to 22 this year, where people, particularly school-going age children in onchocerciasis endemic areas in the country would be administered with drugs.
Globally, Dr Kuma-Aboagye indicated, more than one billion people suffered from one or more NTDs causing disability, severe disfigurement and blindness.
These diseases affect the world’s most vulnerable population with devastating and life-long disabilities that contribute to ensnaring individuals, families and even entire communities in poverty, he said.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye advised people in the communities for MDAs to avail themselves to receive the drugs so that the exercise would achieve desirable results.
Dr Kofi Asemanyi-Mensah, the National Programme Manager of the NTDs, mentioned low mortality, policy weakness as well as lackadaisical attitudes of some health authorities as some of the hindrances affecting the fight against the NTDs in the country.
He explained the MDAs remained the surest remedy to control onchocerciasis and called on all stakeholders to support the exercise.
Dr Asemanyi-Mensah commended the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other development partners for their continuous support towards eliminating the NTDs in the country and expressed the hope that the Regional Health Directorates would intensify public education for the majority of the people to benefit from the exercise.