The Service observed the World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Day under the theme “Unite. Act. Eliminate. “The purpose of this commemoration was to raise global and Ghanaian awareness of these illnesses as a reminder that collaboration is still necessary to mitigate their effects.

In his welcome speech, Dr. Winfred Ofosu, the Eastern Regional Health Director, highlighted that while there are 20 diseases listed by WHO as Neglected Tropical Diseases, 14 of them are prevalent in Ghana with numerous districts reporting at least two cases each.

NTDs remain a significant group of diseases on both national and international agenda.

He said the GHS through the NTD Programme was implementing interventions such as case management, and preventive chemotherapy to control and eliminate these diseases in the country.

The annual observance of this day improves health professionals’ cooperation with community members to reduce the incidence of NTDs.

During his keynote speech, Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, Director-General of the Service, articulated that World NTD Day aimed to enhance awareness regarding the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in our nation. He emphasized the availability of free treatment (Mass Drug Administration) for those affected by NTDs and stressed on the effects and stigma associated with NTDs. Furthermore, he highlighted the commitment of high-level stakeholders towards Ghana’s NTD program.

Dr. Kuma-Aboagye revealed that every district in Ghana was endemic with at least two types of NTDs. He added that although most diseases did not cause mortality, they produced detrimental effects such as severe disfigurement, disability and blindness among patients. Driven by poverty-related factors, these diseases were often found to be coexisting within communities – a phenomenon known to exacerbate their impact on individuals’ health status. Dr. Kuma-Aboagye called for stakeholder collaboration to help tackle extreme poverty and help create awareness.

Ms Sharmila Lareef-Jah, WHO’s Representative said the country’s achievements underscore the positive impact of increased political commitment and government investment in the fight against NTDs. She said the WHO would continue to emphasize the importance of health days in raising awareness about various diseases and advocate for support from communities and stakeholders.

Ms Lareef-Jah said despite advancements, NTDs remained a significant public health challenge due to their complex epidemiology, often involving vector-borne transmission and links to environmental conditions.

She explained that the WHO’s support has focused on improving health information systems, strengthening overall health systems, and building capacity in supply chain management.

This year’s celebration was commemorated in Adeiso in the Upper West Akim District in the Eastern Region.