The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has called for sustainable financing of interventions to end Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).
At an event held in Accra on Monday to mark the celebration of the World Neglected Tropical Disease Day, Dr Anthony Adofo Fosu, Deputy Director General of the Service said lack of resources had been a significant barrier in the control, elimination, and eradication of NTDs.
The challenge, he said had been intensified by COVID-19, which had caused severe delays and disruption to NTD programmes.
“Even today when the focus is on Universal Health Coverage, NTDs have very limited resources and are almost ignored by global funding agencies,” he said.
Dr. Fosu described NTDs as diseases of neglected populations that perpetuated a cycle of poor educational outcomes and limited professional opportunities, associated with stigma and social exclusion.
He said so far, 46 countries, including Ghana had eliminated an NTD, indicating that progress was possible.
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) include several parasitic viral, bacterial, fungal, and non-communicable diseases that cause substantial illness for more than one billion people globally.
NTDs are mainly prevalent in tropical areas, where they mostly affect impoverished communities and disproportionately affect women and children.
Many NTDs are vector-borne, have animal reservoirs and are associated with complex life cycles.
These diseases cause devastating health, social and economic consequences to more than one billion people.
NTDs are: Buruli ulcer, Chagas disease, dengue and chikungunya, dracunculiasis (Guinea-worm disease), echinococcosis, foodborne trematodiases, human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), leishmaniasis, leprosy (Hansen’s disease), lymphatic filariasis, mycetoma, chromoblastomycosis.
The rest are: deep mycoses, onchocerciasis (river blindness), rabies, scabies and other ectoparasites, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiases, snakebite envenoming, taeniasis/cysticercosis, trachoma, and yaws and other endemic treponematoses.
The WHO country representative to Ghana, Dr Francis Kasolo lauded the country for eliminating Gamebiesi Human African Trypanosomiasis as a public health problem.
He applauded the leadership of WHO, the Government and all the NTD partners for the historic achievement.
Mr Kasolo called for intensified efforts to ensure universal access to treatment and care for all persons affected with NTDs and strengthened surveillance for disease earmarked for elimination.
He said NTDs had a considerable mortality rate of about 200,000 deaths and 19 million disability adjusted life years each year, which called for the need for increased resources.
He stressed the need for an improved health care services in an efficient health system with well-managed supply chain management for effective control and elimination of the NTDs.
Mr Kasolo encouraged the Interagency Country Coordinating Committee to continue advocacy and engagement with other sectors to address cross cutting issues in the elimination process.
He urged the government to allocate adequate resources to facilitate the elimination process.