Save our souls - Ankaful cured lepers cry for medical supplies

BY: Chris Nunoo
A foreign volunteer dressing the wound of a cured lepe
A foreign volunteer dressing the wound of a cured lepe

Eighteen cured lepers, including five with severe complications, at the lepers’ camp at Ankaful in the Central Region are in dire need of medical supplies.

Although cured,the lepers who live among about 40 households and their families at the camp still have some chronic extensive wounds which need regular dressing.

NGO

The Executive Director of Project Network International, a Cape Coast based Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Mr Grant Essel Appiah, told the Daily Graphic that as a voluntary service organisation, the NGO had been relying on donations from volunteers to execute its activities, which included visiting the lepers and dressing their wounds every Thursday.

Unfortunately,he said, “We have been unable to reach out to the people of the camp as often as we should due to inadequate medical supplies and the impact of COVID-19 on our foreign volunteers and their travels.”

He has, therefore, appealed to pharmacies in Cape Coast and beyond to urgently support Project Network International and its volunteers to reach out  to the needy lepers.

Background

The leprosy camp at Ankaful in the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem (KEEA) Municipality was built many years ago by the Catholic Church with support
from Catholic nuns from the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland to accommodate cured lepers.

Owing to stigma, many of the cured lepers cannot return to their families after treatment.

Leprosy is a curable disease but depending on how early treatment is sought, one is likely to suffer from complications from the disease.

The disease, therefore, leads to loss of sensation from the affected part of the body and the complication ranges from chronic ulcer to amputation of the affected limb.

It also damages the skin and even the eyes.

Mr Appiah said the ulcers from the disease need daily dressing to heal and Project Network International had been helping in that direction.

However, he said because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the foreign volunteers of the NGO “who are our main source of funding to cater for the lepers have stopped and the situation has greatly affected their welfare”.

Medical supplies

Some of the items urgently needed to attend to the needs of the lepers, Mr Appiah listed, included gauze roll, cotton wool, disposable gloves, normal saline, IV metronidazole solution, gauze bandage and crepe bandage.

The rest, he mentioned, were drez solution, plaster, hydrogen peroxide, triple action cream, surgical gloves and Vaseline gauze.

“The NGO, which is a voluntary service organisation, works to recruit volunteers from abroad to work as interns or volunteers in various sectors. We have been relying on donations from volunteers to execute their activities.

“Unfortunately, we have been unable to reach out to the people of the camp as often as we should due to inadequate medical supplies and the impact of COVID-19 on our foreign volunteers and travels,” Mr Appiah stressed, saying “most of the people at the camp are cured lepers but with some chronic extensive wounds that need regular dressing”.

He said some of the lepers had been living at the camp for over two decades and the volunteers and nurses from his outfit visited them every Thursday to dress their wounds to avoid further complications and death.