The Upper East region of Ghana has recorded the highest number of cases of elephantiasis, also known as lymphatic filariasis, in the country.
According to the Ghana Health Service, there have been 2,373 confirmed cases of elephantiasis in the region, accounting for about a third of the entire national cases.
Elephantiasis is a parasitic contamination due to thread-like worms transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes.
The infection can lead to swelling and thickening of the limbs and genitals, resulting in sizable disfigurement and disability and also can cause severe pain and soreness, in addition to secondary infections.
Bright Alomatu, Desk Officer, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) programme of the Ghana Health Service said even though all 15 municipalities and districts of the Upper East Region are endemic, medical examiners had been capable of prevent the spread of elephantiasis within the vicinity.
The Upper East region’s high range of cases, Mr. Alomatu stated, may be because of numerous elements, along with negative sanitation and hygiene practices, a condition that create a conducive environment for mosquitoes to reproduce and spread the contamination.
“The risk is very high where we have transmission ongoing because the mosquitoes bite everybody. So once the parasite is in the system and the mosquitoes are picking and spreading, then the likelihood of you getting it is very high.”
He was speaking during a stakeholder’s sensitization held in Bolgatanga on measures to adopt and recommend to cope with concerns confronting patients of the ailment.
According to Mr. Alomatu, health workers and volunteers were trained since 2016 across all regions of the country, and that had contributed to preventing the transmission of the disorder in 109 districts.
He stated the disease was mapped in 1999 and out of the 261 districts throughout the country, 116 had been recognized as endemic of elephantiasis and only Ashanti, Ahafo, Volta, and Oti regions were non-endemic.
“We’ve trained 2,100 patients on a way to manage their situations so that they can see an improvement of the circumstance of the leg or whichever that is swollen so that it will not swell further and they will no longer also be going through acute inflammation”, he delivered.
He mentioned areas such as of the legs, hands, breasts of girls, penis, vulva, and scrotum as the most affected part with the commonness in Ghana being the palms, legs, and scrotum.
The sensitization organized with assistance from the Ghana Health Service, American Leprosy Mission, and the Christian Connection for International Health.
Mr Solomon Atinbire, Programme Manager for American Leprosy Mission said the motive for organizing the sensitization was to equip some individuals to serve as game changers to advocate for the inclusion of patients with elephantiasis cases in Ghana’s Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme.
“That would help them [patients] to get some monies to register for health insurance coverage so that anytime they are taken ill, they can visit the health facilities for care”, he stated.
Mr. Atinbire explained that the condition of elephantiasis made the patients vulnerable to engage in any economic activities or access health services, hence the decision to form a committee in all districts and municipalities of the region to advocate for the welfare of the patients with elephantiasis.
Dr. Josephat Nyuzaghl, the Upper East Regional Deputy Health Director in charge of Public Health said it is expected that the advocacy groups would engage the assemblies for the patients to benefit from some of the disability funds of the assemblies.