The Filariasis team from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine (KCCR) led by the Dean of the Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, Professor Alexander Yaw Debrah have organised a day’s workshop on Hygiene-Based Lymphedema Morbidity Management in Lymphatic Filariasis (LF), widely known as Elephantiasis for District Disease Control Officers, Community Health Nurses and Physician Assistants in the Kassena Nankana East Municipal and Kassena Nankana West District.
The workshop, which was sponsored by the State of North Rhine-Westphalia Parliament of Germany through the Institute of Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology (IMMIP) of Bonn University Hospital was held on 9th December 2021. In all, a total of over 150 health workers were trained.
The Filariasis group at KCCR/KNUST focuses on filarial diseases such as LF, onchocerciasis, and mansonellosis. Their research areas include clinical trials in LF, and onchocerciasis aimed at finding the best therapeutic regimen for the treatment of LF and onchocerciasis.
Opening the workshop, Professor Alexander Debrah appreciated the Upper East Regional Health Directorate and the Kassena Nankana District Health Directorates for the opportunity and warm reception given them.
The Principal Investigator announced that the treatment of lymphedema (elephantiasis) patients which commenced in the Kassena Nankana East and West Districts in 2017 has managed over 420 lymphedema patients. The team hence deemed it appropriate to also train the health workers in the Municipal and the District to manage the elephantiasis attacks that patients experience periodically.According to Professor Debrah, the elephantiasis disease and patients have been neglected for a long time, thus, the need to attend to them to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 which seeks to promote quality healthcare for all.
Professor Alex Debrah in his presentation on Morbidity Management Training elaborated that LF is caused by filarial worms, Wucheria bancrofti and Brugia spp which is present in about 80 countries in parts of Africa, Asia, Central America & Pacific Islands. The disease is spread through mosquito bite that pick the worm from infected persons.
Professor Debrah touched on how the mapping for endemic areas in Ghana began in 1998 through to its current state and said According to the GHS, ‘LF is now present in only 8 hotspots in Ghana.
In collaboration with the Ghana Health Services, the Filariasis team is working assiduously to eliminate the disease by 2030 set by the WHO, he assured.
Dr. Linda Batsa Debrah, the Filariasis Project Coordinator giving an overview on the morbidity management in the districts for the past five years revealed that an interactive voice system response was developed to identify more patients with lymphedema and hydrocele in the districts for management and said morbidity management had been organized for patients and community health workers several times already.
Dr. (Mrs.) Debrah walked the participants through the morbidity management thoroughly. Participants broke into breakout sessions to have hands-on training on how to manage elephantiasis by Washing, Elevation and Exercising as indicated in the GHS lymphedema management handbook.
The Municipal Health Director of the Kassena Nankana East, Mr. Benson Azuure termed the workshop as ‘timely’ since it would empower the participants with the requisite knowledge to handle the high rates of records in the Municipal. He encouraged the health workers to tap into the opportunity and help reduce the transmission of the disease to improve their quality of life.
On behalf of the Ghana Health Service, he appreciated the Filariasis team for the good work done so far and appealed to them for more support. "We will always call on you when the need arises to share your knowledge and research to help improve our health," he added.
In his closing remarks, Prof. Alexander Yaw Debrah thanked the State of North Rhine-Westphalia Parliament of Germany and the Institute of Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology (IMMIP) of Bonn University Hospital for the support and the sponsorship.