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Noguchi celebrates World Neglected Tropical Disease Day


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The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research at the University of Ghana, as part of its efforts to ensure good health for the people of Ghana and beyond, has organized free medical screening to mark the 2024 World Neglected Tropical Disease Day held in Accra under the theme, “Unite. Act. Eliminate.”.
The theme emphasises a call to action for everyone, including leaders and communities, to come together and address the inequalities that result in neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
Neglected tropical diseases is said to be threatened more than 1.7 billion people living in the poorest and most marginalized communities worldwide. These diseases include blindness disable and disfigure people, taking away not only their health, but also their chances of staying in school, earning a living, or even being accepted by their family or community.

As part of efforts to improve the awareness and treatment rate, the World Health Organization, on World Neglected Tropical Disease Day 2024, is calling for a united front to address the inequalities that drive neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
The call is to help make bold and sustainable investments to free the estimated 1.62 billion people, in the worlds most vulnerable communities, from a vicious cycle of disease and poverty.

The Noguchi Memorial Institute of the University of Ghana is strongly involved in research into NTDs and has over the years, supported the drive towards ending these diseases through research, training, awareness creation and support to persons with NTDs.

In an interview, Dr. Richard Akuffo, Research Fellow at the Institute for Medical Research disclosed that, Ghana has 14 of the Neglected Tropical Disease and have eradicated one completely which is guinea worm and is no more in Ghana adding that, two other ones, Trachoma and Sleeping sickness have been declared by the WHO as, eliminated as public health problem.
The World Neglected Tropical Disease Day 2024 he hinted, was set aside by the World Health Organization to mark 20 diseases that are known to affect people but have not received enough attention all over the world.
“We have important institutions like the Nuguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research that is continuously conducting research to inform a policy conducting research to give us evidence as to where the cases are. And so, together with the Ghana Health Service and other stakeholders, we hope to be able to overcome the NTDS and very soon Ghana would be declared NTD free. WHO has set 2030 as a target for us to be able to make major strides in overcoming NTDS”.

The Neglected Tropical Diseases according to Dr. Akuffo don’t have barriers and therefore are found everywhere.
He advised that, communities should be receptive or opened to health workers when they come around.
On her part, a Senior Laboratory Technologist with the Nuguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research at University of Ghana, Madam Yvonne Ashong stated that, NTDs is preventable adding that, it can be prevented through the normal hygiene in the form of hand washing, cleaning the surroundings, throwing of rubbish appropriately and not to dump refused that would choked the drains to breed mosquitoes.
She urged that children should be educated on hand washing before eating since common worms can be transmitted through the food that they picked.
“Some of the reason why neglected tropical diseases have not received enough attention is because, they usually affect people in hard to reach areas. People who turned to be quite poor and marginalized and because they are at hard to reach areas, access to them is not very easy and therefore, many of these conditions have been neglected. Also the funding that is required to control are not readily available”.
She however, entreated Ghanaians to keep their surroundings clean and also, stop defecating around, clean their gutters to prevent being served as a breeding point for mosquitoes and also, stop dumping waste into the water bodies.
“Let’s stop defecating around. So we need to build proper structures around that people would stop defecating and go into these structures where it is control. If you have people just defecating everywhere, the worms they would put into the grounds, people would go and step in it and then, they would get infected and then the cycle is going on and on and on”.

She urged people to sleep in nets to prevent mosquito bites in other to avoid contracting malaria.
NTDs represent a group of 20 diseases identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) to affect the poorest and marginalized in society. These diseases, while they do not kill many people, cause physical, psychological, and socio-economic challenges to the affected individuals and families.
Ghana is endemic for 14 of the diseases which include: Lymphatic Filariasis (elephantiasis), Onchocerciasis (river blindness), Schistosomiasis (blood in urine or stool), Soil-transmitted helminths (worms), Buruli ulcer, Guinea worm, Leprosy, Yaws, human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), Rabies, Cutaneous Leishmaniasis, Trachoma, Scabies and Snake bite envenoming. Diseases such as Buruli ulcer, yaws and schistosomiasis affect people with inadequate access to clean potable water.

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