Deputy Northern Regional Minister, Mr Issah Ketekewu, has appealed to the Ghana Pharmaceutical Students Association (GPSA) to help expose quack doctors operating in the rural communities.
He said the activities of these fake practitioners had not only created serious implications on the healthcare delivery system and in many instances, caused deaths of unsuspecting people.
Mr. Ketekewu was addressing 165 students of the Faculty of Pharmacy of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi in Tamale on Saturday.
The students were on a one-week tour of 16 districts in the Northern Region to study the appropriate use of drugs and medicines by the people. They also educated the communities on how to make their drinking water safe with the view to eradicating guinea worm and other waterborne diseases.
The theme of the tour was: "Drug Safety and Health Education with Emphasis on Guinea Worm Eradication - Effective Tools in Building a Healthy Ghana".
It was jointly organised by the GPSA and the Food and Drugs Board as part of the Association's annual Drug Safety Week.
Mr. Ketekewu urged the students to track down illegal drug peddlers from the system.
He also appealed to students not to leave the country to look for greener pastures after they have completed their course, adding, "We have to be patriotic to our country. Nobody can come from elsewhere to build the country for us."
Dr Seidu Korkor, Coordinator of the Guinea Worm Eradication Programme in the region, said 20 districts recorded 2,318 guinea worm cases, representing 97 percent of cases recorded throughout the country.
He said out of the 20 districts, 12 of them that were in the Northern Region, accounted for 87 percent of the cases as at May 2006.
He mentioned Savelugu/Nanton, Tolon/Kumbungu, Yendi and East Gonja Districts, as well as the Tamale Metropolis, as most endemic with the guinea worm disease, adding that these areas contributed 77 percent of the total national affliction as at May this year.
Currently, Ghana is the second guinea worm most endemic country in the world after Sudan.
Dr. Korkor said irregular and incorrect use of water filters and also the reluctance of the people to participate in the eradication efforts were some of the challenges facing the programme.
Mr. Agampim Solomon, Northern Sector Officer of the Food and Drugs Board (FDB) in-charge of Drug Safety Monitoring, said every medicine was like a double-edged sword and therefore requires care in its use.
He said diseases, which appeared incurable in the past, could not be treated, following the development of new drugs.
He urged consumers and health professionals to seek knowledge about the use of medicines.
"Our nation needs a healthy human resource base to achieve national goals, such as attaining middle-income status by the year 2015," he added.
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