The Ghana Health Service (GHS) is set to administer drugs to over 13 million people in 81 districts under the Non-Tropical Disease (NTDs) Programme.
According to the GHS, this formed part of processes to eliminate Onchocerciasis (oncho) and Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) by 2030.
The exercise would be held in 77 Oncho endemic districts targeted at 12.6 million people and four LF endemic districts where an estimated 440,000 people are expected to receive the drug.
Dr. Anthony Adofo Ofosu, the Deputy Director General of the GHS, disclosed these at the national launch of the 2022 mass drug administration against NTDs in Kumasi.
The event which was held under the theme, “Achieving Health Equity to End the Neglect of Poverty Related Diseases,” brought together key stakeholders, development partners and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in health.
The launch was a prelude to various training activities for health professionals and community volunteers who shall supervise the exercise.
Dr. Ofosu said Oncho and LF could be targeted through a highly effective integrated community treatment approach, using drugs that have proven to be safe and effective.
“This approach known as Mass Drug Administration (MDA), provides a single dose medication to all eligible individuals once or twice a year. When implemented over three to seven years, MDA can significantly reduce the burden of NTDs, and in some cases, elimination can be achieved,” he stated.
He said NTD caused significant morbidity and mortality nationwide, adding that, more than one billion people across the world suffer from one or more NTDs that cause disability, severe disfigurement and blindness.
The diseases, according to him, affected the world’s most vulnerable population with devastating and life-long disabilities that promote poverty.
“These patients are not only physically disabled but they also suffer mental social and financial losses, contributing to stigma and poverty,” hhe said.
Dr. Kofi Asemanyi-Mensah, Programme Manager, Non-Tropical Disease Programme, said Ghana was endemic for all five NTDs which required MDA for their control.
He said LF was endemic in 114 out of the 260 districts whereas oncho was also prevalent in 137 districts which cut across all 15 regions except for Greater Accra Region.
He indicated that that goal of the MDA was to reduce the prevalence of NTDs in Ghana to the level that was no longer of public health significance by 2030.