The Programme Officer of the National Tuberculosis Control Programme Dr. Nii Nortey Hanson-Nortey says the country's quest to fight yaws will be seriously hampered because of government's seeming low commitment towards its fight.
Dr. Hanson-Nortey told the dailyEXPRESS that available statistics puts the number of infections as at 2005 at 26,000 but this reduced to 16,000 in 2006.
Despite the significant reduction in infection rate, the medical doctor said the rate is not encouraging because the disease is still very alarming in the country. He explained that majority of those affected have either failed to report to the hospitals for treatment or are ignorant of its existence.
Yaws is a common chronic infectious disease that occurs mainly in the warm humid regions of the tropics. It features characteristic bumps on the skin of the face, hands, feet, and genital area. Almost all cases of yaws are in children under 15 years of age.
Yaws begins when the spirochete penetrates the skin at a spot where it was scraped, cut, or otherwise compromised. At the entrance site, a painless bump arises within 2-8 weeks and grows.
The initial bump is referred to as the mother yaw. The glands in the area of the mother yaw are often swollen (regional lymphadenopathy). When the mother yaw heals, a light-colored scar remains.
Dr. Hanson-Nortey attributed the worsening situation of the disease to the poor maintenance of proper hygiene in most communities. According to him, yaws thrives very well in insanitary conditions, and people should therefore take the issue of sanitation seriously.
He told the dailyEXPRESS that the rate of spread can be minimized only if government commits itself to strengthening the capacity of health professionals as well as undertaking a nationwide campaign to sensitize people about the dangers associated with the disease.
The worsening rate of the disease was first raised by Dr. Hanson-Nortey while presenting a paper at a public lecture organized by the Ghana Health Service.
Dr. Hanson-Nortey told the participants that the country has not been able to undertake any nationwide exercise on the disease since the end of the World Health Organization (WHO) assisted yaws elimination campaign in the late 1960s hence the upsurge of the disease.
The prevalence rate estimated to be around 87 cases to 100,000 puts the Eastern Region ahead of Central, Western, Volta and Ashanti Regions.
Dr Hanson-Nortey said comparison of institutional and reported cases in 1993 and a rough field research showed that only 30 per cent of cases were being reported and that the standardized format for recording and reporting had not yielded results.