Health News of 2014-04-13

Ghana celebrates World Health Day

Ms. Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Health, has said vector-borne diseases cause more than one million deaths each year, of which the mortality they cause may result in an underestimation of permanent debilitation, disfigurement or blindness caused.

She said the diseases are known to thrive well under conditions of poverty, poor housing, unsafe water and environment contaminated with filth.

The Minister made this known at the national celebration of World Health Day in Accra on Saturday, on the theme: “Protect Yourself From Victor-Borne Disease”.

She explained that, one-sixth of the world is at risk of vector-borne diseases, “with this, World Health Day, WHO is drawing attention to a group of diseases that are spread by insects and other vectors, the heavy health and economic burdens they impose, and what needs to be done to reduce this burden.”

She observed that notable among these vectors are mosquitoes, ticks, flies, sand flies, fleas, bugs and freshwater snails.

“The diseases they cause are malaria schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis, leishmaniasis, yellow fever, many of which belong to the list of neglected tropical diseases,” she said.

She added that many of these diseases are found in Ghana, but there are effective interventions for addressing them, which are targeted at the vectors.

Ms. Ayittey said in Ghana, malaria and the neglected tropical diseases exert a heavy social burden, adding that, often times, this gets severe because of the specific attributes of the diseases, particularly since chronic complications may be hidden and are considered shameful.

She added, “knowing how saddening and debilitating these diseases can be, the physical disability caused by these diseases, accompanied by social stigma and economic hardship”.

The Health Minister said the Government of Ghana in its commitment to fight against the neglected tropical diseases, has this year made a lot of contributions towards the implementation of interventions targeted at malaria and these neglected tropical diseases.

She advised Ghanaians to be conscious of personal hygiene in order to stem the disease and to also desist from improper waste disposal and keep clean gutters.

Dr. Magda Robalo, WHO representative in Ghana said Vector-Borne diseases are one of the greatest contributions to human mortality and morbidity in tropical settings and even beyond, adding that it also causes immense suffering to millions of people.

She said increased travel, trade and immigration are increasing the number of people at risk, “environmental changes are causing an increase in the number and spread of many vectors worldwide.

Dr. Robalo explained that 40 percent of the world’s population is at risk from dengue, and an estimated of 1.3 million new cases of leishmaniasis occur every year.

She gave the assurance that WHO would continue to promote integrated vector management as the best approach to strengthen vector control.

She called on the government and the people of Ghana to concentrate, promote and protect actions to prevent the threat caused by small bites.