A 32-member committee has been inaugurated to reinvigorate activities towards eliminating Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in the country.
Members of the Ghana Intra-Country Coordinating Committee (ICCC) for NTDs were drawn from various Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs), to among others advice, mobilise resources and oversee the implementation and monitoring of NTD sustainability plans and programmes.
Comprising three sub committees; Technical, Advocacy and Communication as well as Resource mobilisation Committee, the ICCC is expected to accelerate Ghana’s progress towards achieving the WHO target to eliminate all forms of NTDs by 2030.
At a re-launch of the committee in Accra, Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, noted that there were many influences that come to bear on the health of the population, outside the health sector.
As a result, he underscored the need for multi-sectorial collaborations to “address the determinants of health and well-being.”
Dr Kuma-Aboagye stated that a game changer in the fight against NTDs was the improvement in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities across all 16 regions of the country, which are endemic for at least one NTD.
“Treatment alone will not break the cycle of transmission; improvements of WASH infrastructure and appropriate health-seeking behaviour are essential to achieving sustained control, elimination or eradication of many NTDs”, he said.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye said there was the pressing need to identify best practices and build a strong evidence-base information for collaborative programming.
He also called for the identification of effective, sustainable, and scalable methods of integrating WASH and NTD control activities.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye charged the revamped committee to intensify collaboration between the NTD programme and WASH, to attain mutual outcomes for both sectors.
“The revamped ICCC must not fail as they have all the experts and sectors. What is needed as alluded to earlier, is the commitment to the inter-sectoral collaboration,” he said.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, reiterates government commitment to attaining national and global WASH goals to invariably control outbreak of NTDs.
He encouraged the committee to scale up research to direct NTD programming for greater impact, adding that “lessons and best practices in other NTD endemic countries should be contextualised and replicated for NTDs in Ghana.”
Mr Agyeman-Manu called on MDAs and other “sectors to explore platforms through which NTDs interventions can leverage on and be integrated, for greater outcomes.”
The National NTDs Ambassador, Dr Joyce Aryee, recounted how the absence of a vibrant ICCC had negatively impacted on the success of the NTD programme.
Expressing delight over the setting up of the committee, Dr Aryee asked members to “work together and ensure that these diseases are no longer neglected and that through it, we end poverty in this country.”
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH