NETHERLANDS PARTNERS GHANA TO COMBAT TUBERCULOSIS

By Chantal Aidoo

 

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that can spread through the lymph nodes and bloodstream to any organ of the human body, although it is mostly found in the lungs.

 

 

 

There are two types of the disease, namely the multidrug resistance and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis.

 

Patients who suffer from the disease cough out blood, experience chest pain or pain in breath, unintentional weight loss, fatigue, fever and night sweats and could be treated when detected early.

 

According to the 2013 National Tuberculosis Prevalence Survey of Ghana, 264 out of every 100,000 Ghanaians were affected by the disease while 63,000 people suffer annually from the curable disease.

 

In Ghana, the disease surfaced during the pre-independence era, necessitating the institution of measures by the then colonial government to combat the disease in view of  the threat it posed to the larger society.

 

In July 1954, the Ghana Society for the Prevention of Tuberculosis was established to support and complement government’s efforts at combating the disease while some nurses were sponsored by government to train in Israel on how Tuberculosis could be managed. Mobile x-ray vans were also acquired and used to carry out mass screening for the disease.

 

Since November 1993, several measures have been taken by government to combat the disease. For example, Ghana signed an agreement with the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) based on a project document that reflected the mainstream policy of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases.

 

It was in the same year that Ghana adopted the Directly Observed Treatment Short Course involving regular drug supply, surveillance, capacity building for tuberculosis treatment and control, and directly supervising treatment, among others, which is being implemented by the National Tuberculosis Program.

 

With the aim of boosting the currently low tuberculosis detection rate in the country, government has also signed an agreement with the Netherlands government to intensify their co-operation in the detection of the disease.

 

Under the new partnership with the Netherlands Government, Ghana will be able to increase the rate of detection to 85 per cent.

 

In his remarks at the agreement signing ceremony, the Minister for Health, Mr Alex Segbefia,  described the partnership  as timely as the digital imaging systems which would be situated in 52 hospitals nationwide could also be used treat injuries on road accidents and cancers.

 

Furthermore, Mr Segbefia said, the equipment provided for the detection of Tuberculosis would also be used for other purposes that could lead to improvement in revenue generation and enhancement of the hospital’s Internally-Generated Fund and support maintenance of the facility.

 

The Minister noted that even though Tuberculosis was curable, an individual suffering from the disease needed € 35 to get cured.

 

He said the partnership would contribute significantly to improving the health of many Ghanaians and create more jobs for the youth as the 52 imaging digital systems, consisted of a combination of mobile clinics, fixed units as well as information technology services.

 

He, therefore, called on the media, district health officials and community health nurses to educate the rural communities and the general public on the need to protect themselves against Tuberculosis as well as urging the public to visit the health facility regularly  for medical screening to ensure they are living healthy.

 

The Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, His Excellency Hans Docter, explained that the Netherlands government had ventured into several health projects but that this particular project was exceptional as it would pay for itself because the equipment used solar energy.

 

Ambassador Docter said the project was very innovative and allowed hospitals to not only generate funds but also strengthen the role of private care in hospitals.

 

The writer is a journalist with the Information Services Department.

 

 

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