Ghana’s efforts to tackle tuberculosis (TB) is in dire straits as the country is unable to raise the total funding required to execute its national programme to address the disease.
The yearly budget requirement for the programme is $20 million, but it is able to raise only $7 million of the amount, leaving a huge funding gap of $13 million. Much of the funding is from external donors like the Global Fund.
According to the National Tuberculosis Programme (NTP), every year about 77,000 Ghanaians get TB, and that is 290 out of every 100,000 of the population.
Speaking to journalists at a Media Encounter Thursday February 25, 2016 in Accra, the Acting Director of the NTP, Dr. Nii Nortey Hanson Nortey said while TB treatment is free, it is not covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Dr. Nortey expressed worry about the fact that most Ghanaians don’t seek treatment for TB, because of stigmatization.
“TB treatment is free, but we are finding that not many who are affected by the disease are seeking treatment,” he said.
He said while the disease burden n Ghana is more than four times as originally thought, medical practitioners are seeing a downward trend in reported cases.
“At any given time we find only 2.4 per cent of all cases,” adding that, “the TB problem is bigger than it was thought,” urging all who have the symptoms to seek treatment at the nearest hospital as TB is curable.
Dr. Nortey indicated that there are higher numbers of TB sufferers in rural areas than there are in urban areas.
He also advised the population to keep windows open, as that’s one way to curb TB infections. “The disease is airborne,” he said, “so when there is enough ventilation in a room, it minimizes the risk of infection.”
An information brochure provided by the NTP describes TB among other things as an infectious disease caused by a small germ (micro-organism) known as Mycobaterium tuberculosis. TB, it says can affect all parts of the but, but most people suffer from TB affecting the lungs, and this is the most infectious form of the disease, which is spread from person to person through coughing, speaking, or singing.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi