Mrs Lynda Arthur, Country Director of Health Foundation of Ghana, a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), has expressed concern about challenges that deterred buruli ulcer patients from reporting to health facilities for treatment.
She said challenges as the myths and stigma that surrounded the disease, the low level of awareness of treatment options, the long distances of health facilities and the attitude of some health personnel towards the disease had been a hindrance to the eradication of the disease.
The country director was addressing the opening of a four-day training workshop organised by the Foundation at Kukuom in the Asunafo South District of the Brong Ahafo Region to promote early reporting and treatment of the disease.
It was organised in collaboration with the National Buruli Ulcer Control Programme and the Asunafo South District Health Administration and sponsored by Fontilles Lucha Contra La Lepra of Spain.
Eighty community health volunteers, 80 School Health Education Programme (SHEP) co-ordinators and 40 community health workers in early case detection, referral and case management attended.
Mrs Arthur stated that over the past decade researchers had found an effective treatment for the disease which the World Heath Organization (WHO) had recommended.
“WHO states that ideally early reporting patients should be initially given an eight week dosage regimen of specific combination of antibiotics that have been found to be very effective in either healing the disease or reducing its size dramatically before surgery,” she said.
Mrs Arthur said, as such, patients who would need the surgery would only need a short stay in hospital and that those whose ulcers were healed after taking the medication would not have to stay in hospital at all.
“The socio-economic impact of this for buruli ulcer patients is immense. It is therefore important that we share this knowledge with buruli ulcer patients, their families and communities to dispel the myths as well as encourage early reporting.
“We must empower health personnel, community volunteers and SHEP with skills to detect and refer the disease for appropriate treatment,” she said.
She explained that the workshop targeted endemic districts to promote early reporting and referral of the disease through such training sessions and public education in affected communities.
Dr Edwin Ampadu, Programmes Manager of the National Buruli Ulcer Control Programme, noted that significant strides had over the years been made in the detection and control of the disease in Ghana.
He noted that persons most affected by the disease were children of school-going age and urged the participants to work effectively to encourage patients to report to health facilities since the National Health Insurance Scheme covered the treatment of the disease. Mr I.K. Acheampong, District Co-ordinating Director, who presided, said he was happy that the workshop was held in the “most endemic” district of the region and urged the participants to work with dedication and love towards the affected persons.