Elimination of Trachoma should spur us on

BY: Daily Graphic
Elimination of Trachoma should spur us on
Elimination of Trachoma should spur us on

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced that Ghana has been recognised to be one of the first to eliminate trachoma, the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide.

Trachoma was identified in the 1950s as the most important cause of blindness in Ghana, and by the 1990s, the disease was known to persist as a significant public health problem in the Northern and the Upper West regions, with about 2.8 million people said to be at risk of trachomatous blindness nationally.

Ghana’s efforts at eliminating trachoma, which were intensified in 2000, led to the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) setting up a national trachoma elimination programme which implemented the WHO-recommended elimination strategy, SAFE, which comprised surgery for trichiasis, antibiotics to clear infection, facial cleanliness and environmental improvement to reduce transmission.

Facial cleanliness was promoted through community events such as drama, school health education programmes, radio messages, as well as radio clubs. There was also an environmental improvement programme, coordinated by the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), and trichiasis surgery, which as part of the measures, was also provided at no cost.

It is obvious that the government and allied health organisations have, over the years, contributed to the development of health infrastructure, material and human resource for the health sector, but present conditions at the various health facilities are not indicators we are proud of as a country.

In a nutshell, we cannot sweep the problems facing the health sector under the carpet because of the joy over the trachoma elimination.

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The Daily Graphic would like to encourage all in the health sector to take a cue from the steps taken 18 years ago by the MoH and the GHS towards eliminating trachoma, by coordinating their activities, as well as streamlining them, while liaising with the government to do away with overlaps and project duplications.

This is because the lack of proper coordination and management of such projects has led to many health facilities being abandoned or neglected midstream, in spite of the incessant demands from clients.

It is in this vein that we also urge the government to build on achievements, such as the one recognised by the WHO, so that we make progress not only with the elimination of ailments such as trachoma, guinea worm and other communicable diseases but also improve upon general healthcare delivery across the country.

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The Daily Graphic joins stakeholders in the health sector and its allied organisations through whose immense efforts this feat was chalked up to celebrate this milestone. While we revel in this success story in our health sector, we must not lose sight of the enormous challenges, including lack of beds, inadequate number of ambulances, lack of paramedics, among others, already confronting our healthcare delivery, especially the emergency services.

Such international recognition of achievements, instead of getting into our heads, must rather spur us on to go the extra mile by investing more in the health sector.

The Daily Graphic believes that we have the men and the women who have what it takes to ensure the success of state programmes and projects; all we need to do is coordinate efforts for the nation to rise and be seen among the top in the world.