Eradicating diseases in Africa possible – Prof. Owusu Gyapong

Professor John Owusu Gyapong, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Development at the University of Ghana, has said some major diseases could be eradicated in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“The elimination of small pox a little over three decades ago, demonstrates that eradication of diseases could bring lasting positive effects to the society,” he said.

Prof. Gyapong said this during his Inaugural Lecture in Accra on the theme, “Disease Elimination in Sub-Saharan Africa in the 21st Century, Fact or Fantasy.”

He said while infectious diseases such as measles and malaria had received considerable attention for eradication with the support of several global health partners, it was important to know what it takes to eradicate a disease.

Prof Gyapong said some basic things to look at in disease eradication in Sub-Saharan Africa are the practicality of the particular eradication program; commitment on the part of stakeholders; as well as a good understanding of not only the disease, but everything else associated with it, such as its potential victims, the typical areas in which it occurred among other things.

Prof. Gyapong said when medical personnel were able to influence social and political will towards committing more resources to disease eradication it would make such programmes a lot more achievable.

“I would encourage physicians to work with social scientists to find the best means of sourcing for funds,” he said, adding that note should be taken of the fact that it was only the right presentation from physicians that would yield the expected response.

Prof. Gyapong said the involvement of health economists was also needed in disease eradication.

“If you are running a program for the next 20 years for example, what are your cash flow projections?” he asked.

He said one problem area in Sub-Saharan Africa was the poor doctor to patient ration situation, adding that whilst one doctor served 3,000 people in advanced countries, the doctor patient ration in Sub-Saharan Africa was one doctor to 30,000 patients.

He said:”The training of auxiliary health staff is very important in our health delivery system. A lot of care must be taken though in doing this.”

Prof. Gyapong said there was also the need to look at preventive measures because the causes of most diseases were known which made prevention a good option.

Prof Ernest Aryeetey, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, said the science of eradicating disease was well known but lack of willingness to engage in the program is the basic problem.

Source: GNA

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