A total of 291 new reported cases of leprosy infections were recorded across the country last year.
The Medical Superintendent of Ankaful Leprosy and General Hospital, Dr. Ekow Amankrah-Otabir, who gave the figure, urged Ghanaians to seek prompt treatment for any skin lesion for proper diagnose and management, instead of using various creams.
Leprosy is a bacterial infection that starts as a harmless patch.
He was speaking at the inauguration of a new accident and emergency block for the hospital at the weekend.
The 16-bed facility was provided by the International Anti-Leprosy Organisation with support from its partner institutions.
Dr. Amankrah-Otabir explained that some skin rashes or diseases could be symptoms of leprosy, saying, “Leprosy starts as a harmless patch”.
He said the 285 people were registered as suffering from leprosy infection at the end of 2016, indicating the prevalence rate at 0-1/10,000 population.
Dr. Amankrah-Otabir said “We can all help fight the stigmatisation of people with leprosy by avoiding the use of this expression “like cured lepers”, adding that “nobody is born a leper. Leprosy is a bacterial infection which is curable and treatment is free”.
He said leprosy “ is no more of public health significance because the numbers of those suffering from it are within the WHO accepted target for elimination, which is one/less per 10,000 population.”
Dr. Amankrah-Otabir said the hospital was facing inadequate staff and accommodation problems and expressed concern about encroachment on the hospital’s land by private developers, including churches.
He appealed to the Ghana Health Service to support the hospital’s efforts at preventing the encroachment.
Dr. Amankrah-Otabir said non-payment of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) claims, was affecting the smooth running of the hospital.
“We have been paid up to March 2016 so all that has been done from April 2016 to date has not been paid” he explained.
Dr. Amankrah-Otabir commended Father Dr. George Abram, Resident Representative of International Anti-Leprosy Organisation, for soliciting support towards the construction of the accident and emergency block.
The hospital started as a leprosarium in 1951, but it is now known as Ankaful Leprosy and General Hospital serving as a Municipal Hospital for the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem (KEEA) municipality.
From David O. Yarboi-Tetteh, Ankaful