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Seek early treatment to for Buruli Ulcer to avoid complications
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Health News of Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Source: GNA

Seek early treatment to for Buruli Ulcer to avoid complications

Amasaman, (GAR), July 3, GNA- The treatment of Buruli Ulcer (BU), though free, was being avoided by most people in communities affected by the disease due to various reasons, including beliefs in curses, witchcraft and other traditional norms.

The disease, which was detected in Ghana as early as in 1971, was believed to have affected over 6,000 people, leaving them with various forms of disabilities and a devastating impact on their socio-economic lives.

Dr. Edwin Ampadu, Programme Manager for the Buruli Ulcer, at the Ghana Health Service monthly health promotion week on Tuesday, called on the public to report symptoms early for treatment.

The programme, which seeks to educate the public on various devastating health aliments, pointed out that though treatable, BU had been neglected in the country due to limited knowledge of the disease itself resulting in low reporting of cases.

He said the ulcers often started as a painless, mobile swelling in the skin called nodule or a diffuse swelling of the legs and arms and it could affect any part of the body.

Dr. Ampadu said like Tuberculosis (TB), Buruli Ulcer treatment though expensive depending on the degree of the ulcer, was free and urged community volunteers to intensify education to help curb it. He explained that the disease, caused by a Mycobacterium which causes tissue damage and inhibits the immune response, but the mode of transmission was still under investigations and the fact still remained that the disease could not be transmitted from person to person. He stated that insufficient knowledge of the disease, among both health workers and the general public leading to significant underreporting and limited funding to support programme activities were some of the challenges.

Dr Ampadu also mentioned limited health facilities and health personnel as a key challenge to BU treatment and called on all stakeholders to get involved to eradicate the disease in the country. Dr Cynthia Kwakye-Maclean, Ga West District Health Director said the socio-economic impact of the disease was enormous due to the fact that it affected poor rural folks predominantly those under 15 years of age.

She mentioned isolation of patients and families, stigmatisation, dependency, loss of self-worth and fear as some socio-economic impact of the disease due to the fact that their deformities made it difficult for them to participate in income generating activities, normal family life and education.

Dr Kwakye-Maclean said there was the need for referral for rehabilitation after treatment in the form of physiotherapy, occupational therapy and vocational retraining to help patients fully recover and reintegrated into their various communities.

She commended the World Vision Ghana and other supporting NGO's as well as individuals who had supported the Ministry of Health through the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in both funding and support in diverse ways in the treatment of BU in the country and called on others to emulate. 03 July 07

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