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09.06.2005 Regional News

Three Countries Collaborate to Fight Contagious Diseases

By GNA

Bolgatanga, June 9, GNA - Health Personnel from Northern Ghana on Thursday met with their counterparts from Burkina Faso and Togo to discuss plans and strategies that would enable them to effectively control and prevent common diseases plaguing people in the three countries. The two-day 'Cross Border Collaboration' meeting in Bolgatanga, Upper East Region was to enable the Health Workers build consensus on strategies that would enable them to effectively address the health needs of the people.

Dr. Joseph Amankwa, Upper East Regional Director of Health Services, in a welcoming address said the three Countries had been collaborating in times of Epidemics and Immunisation and had found it necessary to include all health problems with special emphasis on contagious diseases that could easily spread across and beyond borders.

"This meeting of today would strengthen and institutionalise the collaboration that we have nurtured over the years and help build bridges across the artificial barriers that militate against our fight against common diseases and health problems affecting our people," he said. He hoped that the collaboration would help minimize the devastating and high morbidity of epidemics like the 1996/97 Cerebro Spinal Meningitis (CSM) and Yellow Fever, fast spreading Tuberculosis, yearly Anthrax focal outbreak and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Dr. Amankwa said there was the need to take note of the global and local driving forces that influences the outcome of health interventions and programmes and agree on common cross border strategies.

Speaking on the eradication of Poliomyelitis, Dr. Nana Antwi Adjei, Programme Manager, Expanded Programme on Immunisation, said no one country in West Africa could be said to be free of the disease until the entire sub-region was completely free of it. He called on all African Countries to collaborate and support each other, saying that diseases knew no boundaries and should be tackled at the same time.

Dr. Adjei noted that the ECOWAS Protocol on free movement of people would provide good grounds for easy communication among health personnel in neighbouring countries so that they could keep each other informed about disease outbreaks. Collaborating countries, he said, should intensify surveillance at crossing points so that children crossing borders could be immunized.

The Central South Regional Director of Health Services of Burkina Faso, Dr. O. Boreima and Dr. Moussa Amidou of Dapaoung Regional Health Services, Togo said apart from Polio, they were focusing on Tuberculosis with the aim of reducing its spread to the barest minimum.

Whilst Dr. Amidou said his region in Togo was doing well in controlling the disease through education and supervised treatment, Dr. Boreima asked to be given tips on how to improve identification and treatment of the disease in the Central South Region of Burkina Faso. Participants would discuss specific activities for collaboration, how often to meet, meeting points, handling of diseases during epidemics and how beneficial it could be to include Traditional healers in their work as it is done in Togo. They would also discuss the best steps to take when patients still undergoing treatment move from one country to the other.

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