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Health News of Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Source: GNA

Ghana certified as Guinea worm-free country

Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), has said the stride to eradicate guinea worm has chalked another milestone with Ghana, which once saw 180,000 cases now certified free of the disease in January.

She said Nigeria looked extremely encouraging, with no cases reported in the past nine months.

Dr Chan stated these in her speech to the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

According to WHO records, only eight countries in Africa are yet to be certified.

They include Kenya and Sudan, being pre-certified with Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, not known to be endemic, and Chad, Ethiopia, Mali and South Sudan, being classified endemic.

The disease afflicted 126 people in 2014 from the 3.5 million cases recorded in 1989, with Afghanistan and Pakistan making great strides, despite severe challenges.

She said more than five billion anti-parasitic treatments were delivered to combat neglected tropical diseases with about 800 million people receiving treatments in 2012 alone.

“We are defeating these ancient companions of the poor, which is paving the way for a mass exodus from poverty must succeed,” the Director-General said.

On Malaria, she said a major expansion of WHO-recommended interventions contributed to a 47 percent reduction in mortality between 2000 and 2013, with an estimated 4.3 million deaths averted.

Dr Chan said over the same period, an estimated 37 million lives were saved by effective diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis.

She said AIDS reached a tipping point last year, when the number of people receiving anti retroviral therapy surpassed the number of new infections.

“The threats to health have multiplied, but so has our capacity to respond. For some reason, health brings out the very best in human creativity and determination,” she added.

The D-G believes the post-2015 era comes with new initiatives, instruments and precise strategies with time-bound goals.

She said the momentum behind the Millennium Development Goals would continue, and WHO was on top of its mandate.

In a related development, Madam Zakaria Azaratu, 47, a farmer from Salaar in the Northern Region was showcased as the last poliomyelitis case for Ghana.

Mr Joe Barikilaar, Northern Regional Guinea worm Coordinator, who accompanied Madam Azaratu to the Assembly, said she was afflicted on May 11 and the worm extracted by June 2, 2010.