Ghana has made significant strides and reached stages for the elimination of neglected tropical diseases, Dr Badu Sarkodie, the Director, Public Health Division of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) said on Tuesday.
He therefore called for concerted efforts among all stakeholders to sustain the gains in the fight against onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis and trachoma.
Dr Sarkodie was addressing the opening session of the 14th National Retreat of the Public Health Division of the GHS underway in Sunyani. The four-day retreat is on the theme 'accelerated public health intervention, essential tools for sustaining the development goals". Dr Sarkodie who represented the Director General of the GHS, Dr Anthony Nsaih-Asare, stressed the importance for the GHS to strategise position and align itself to yield higher performance in disease control and prevention. He emphasised that the country had made some progress in the health sector over the years and commended health workers in the country for their invaluable contributions for those achievements. Dr Sarkodie said the GHS had lived up to expectation in the global polio end game, saying the last case of Poliomyelitis in the country was 2008, but was rapidly contained. “The last guinea worm case in the country was 2010 and we maintain guinea worm free status since certification in 2015. We continue with the surveillance and the cash reward”, he stated. Despite the successes, Dr Sarkodie said yellow fever remained endemic in the country, and asked health workers to adequately comply with the International Health Regulation’s (IHR) lifetime protection for yellow fever vaccination. He said though the country had not recorded the Zika virus infection and the associated central nervous system complications, including congenital microcephaly, the virus continued to be of international and national concern. Dr Sarkodie said the GHS had set-up surveillance systems for Zika infection and microcephaly in harmony with congenital Rubella syndrome surveillance for Rubella infection. He was unhappy about theTB detection rate in the country which was very low and called on the health workers to take advantage of modern technology and interventions to enhance case search and improve on TB detection. Dr Osei Kuffour Afreh, the Deputy Brong-Ahafo Regional Director (Public Health), said HIV/AIDS prevalence in the region was a great worry, lamenting that it had 2.7 percent prevalence with the Sunyani Municipality recording the highest rate of 4.2 per cent. He indicated that lack of funds to procure essential items and medicines for service delivery, inadequate transport and low donor support remained some of the challenges that faced the Directorate that needed urgent attention. Dr Kwasi Dei Anane, a retired medical practitioner who presided, called on the GHS and its partners to develop realistic strategies to achieve set targets for the Sustainable Development Goal three. He expressed dismay that despite so many interventions put in place, maternal death remained a daunting national challenge.