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11.04.2006 Health

Elephantiasis, a cause of permanent disability in W/R

By GNA

Sekondi, April 11 -GNA-Mr. Daniel Aggudey, Project Coordinator of the Western Regional Mass Drug Administration (MDA) has said that Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) popularly known as Elephantiasis was silently destroying lives, breaking up families and causing permanent disability to several Ghanaians.

He said an advanced stage of Elephantiasis, which usually affected and deformed the leg, arm, breast and vulva, cannot be treated. Mr. Aggudey said these at a press briefing on the 2006 Mass Drug Administration (MDA) of the Ghana Health Service at Sekondi on Tuesday. Elephantiasis is caused and transmitted by small worms that passed from person to person through the bite of an infective female anopheles mosquito.

He however, said the enlargement of the genitals of men or Elephantiasis of the scrotum could only be treated through surgery. Mr. Aggudey said presently the administration of a combination of Ivermectin and Albendazole, surgery and the use of insecticide treated bednets (ITNs) were the only solutions to the problem. Mr. Aggudey said the GHS was targeting over 720,000 residents within the Shama Ahanta East Metropolis between April first and 30th this year as part of the MDA.

He hinted that to make the MDA successful, the drugs were being administered from house-to-house but cautioned that children under five years, the seriously ill, pregnant women and women breastfeeding babies less than a week could not participate in the exercise. Mr. Aggudey stressed that the drugs were administered depending on the high of each individual.

He said the MDA project, which began in Ahanta West district in 2000, Nzema East in 2001, Jomoro, Wassa West and Mpohor Wassa East in 2003, Aowin Suaman districts and SAEMA, started in 2004. Mr. Aggudey said that the MDA project was taking place in 49 districts nationwide.

He said currently, 1.15 million people were at risk the Western Region.

He said 25 million men worldwide suffer from genital hydrocoele while 15 million women have lymphoedema or elephantiasis of the leg. He stressed that though there had been reports of itching, headaches and swelling of the limbs as side effects of the drug, it reduces after each treatment.

Mr. Aggudey therefore appealed to all inhabitants to take the MDA seriously and ensure that they receive the combination to minimise their chances of developing permanent disabilities through elephantiasis.

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