Minister of Health calls for
assistance to help reduce TB cases
Bolgatanga, March 24, GNA - Dr George Sipa Yankey, Minister
of Health on Tuesday called on all and sundry to join hands
in preventing, controlling and curing Tuberculosis (TB) that
was spreading steadily and causing loss of productivity to
He noted that despite scientific advances, the disease had
staged a comeback with a vengeance, as reports indicated
that the number of TB cases had been on the increase since
“From 5,000 cases reported on the average in the 1980s,
recent cases give an average of 14,000 new cases every year,
Dr Yankey made the call in Bolgatanga when launching this
year's World TB Day on the theme, "I am stopping TB", saying
“stopping TB was the responsibility of every individual.”
He said even though TB was infectious and an infected person
could spread the disease to about 10 to 15 persons in a
year, it could be brought under control as it could be cured
and the public could help prevent its spread by encouraging
infected people to seek medical help in good time.
"Fortunately, we now possess well established methods for
prevention, diagnosis and treatment, currently our treatment
success rate is close to 85 per cent which is a marked
improvement over what we could achieve just a decade ago,"
Dr Yankey explained that the theme was a two-year campaign,
aimed at involving everybody to control and cure TB.
He said the Ministry of Health used five million dollars in
2008 and would need six million dollars this year with the
hope of achieving better results.
Dr Yankey said 1,018 TB treatment centres and 219 diagnostic
centres had been established and plans were underway to put
up more diagnostic centres with quality equipment to
diagnose the disease throughout the country.
He regretted that TB case detection rate was rather low, a
national average of 37 per cent and appealed to traditional
rulers and opinion leaders to help create awareness about
the importance of seeking medical treatment, saying "as
custodians of culture you can do a lot to demystify the
disease which has a cure".
Dr Joseph A. Amankwa, Director of Public Health, Ghana
Health Service, said TB was predominantly a disease of
poverty and low-income countries accounted for about 95 per
cent of TB cases and 98 per cent of TB deaths worldwide.
"The association between poverty and TB is well established
and widespread. Impoverished communities and social groups
are at higher risk of infection with the TB germ compared to
the general population due to overcrowded living or working
conditions, poor nutrition, co-infections and migration from
or to higher risk communities", he noted.
Controlling the disease, he said, was thus a political
poverty alleviation tool, whereby eliminating extreme
poverty would reduce the incidence of the disease.
Dr Amankwa said other challenges facing TB eradication
included HIV/AIDS, Multi-drug Resistant TB cases which is
estimated to be 2.6 per cent in the country and
However, Dr Amankwa said the fight against TB could not be
lost if a collective responsibility and commitment was put
in, and urged all to help in their own ways to eliminate TB.
He appealed to health workers to treat suspected and
confirmed TB patients with compassion and empathy saying,
"let us be aware that our poor attitude towards our patients
will erode the very core values that guide our work".
Dr Frank Addae Bonsu, Programme Manager, National TB Control
Programme said TB was a leading killer among people
suffering from HIV/AIDS and it was also a major cause of
death in women of child bearing age.
He noted that TB was a public health problem that could
undermine the business community as it could take a big toll
on the population and urged them to support the TB programme.
Dr Daniel Kertesz, World Health Organisation Representative
in Ghana said WHO would continue to provide support to the
Tuberculosis Strategic Plan developed by the Ministry of
Health for stopping TB in the country.