Tuberculosis (TB) is still wreaking havoc in many countries including Ghana as four people die of the disease every hour in the country presently.
Globally, about 4,010 people die of TB hourly, available data has shown.
However, resources to address the disease are said to be very limited in Ghana.
Also, there is a lot of stigmatization, myths and misconception about TB, which make fighting the disease very difficult.
“People still believe that having a TB infection in Ghana is like somebody has placed a curse on you or the gods are punishing someone for doing something wrong, and because of that a lot of people are dying out of the disease,” Mrs Cecilia Senoo, Executive Director of Hope for Future Generations (HFFG), a non-governmental organisation, said in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA).
She said because of the myths, there were still a lot of people suffering and not accessing treatment “because they are also poor”.
There is also TB drug resistance, she indicated.
Mrs Senoo, who was talking to the GNA on the sidelines of a trainer of trainees workshop in Accra, said there was the need to mobilise domestic resources to control the disease and to reach the hard-to-reach areas as funding from the Global Fund and the USAID that support Ghana to fight the disease is inadequate.
She said resources were also needed to address the misconceptions around TB and the diagnostic systems, in getting the needed equipment that is required for TB testing in all endemic areas since the ones presently available were out of order.
TB is an airborne disease and affects many people including persons living with HIV who are very prone to the disease due to immunity issues.
Mrs Senoo, therefore, called on the Government to start looking at TB as one of the important public health conditions that needed investment.
The two-day workshop on the TB Impact Ghana App, (OneImpact’s digital platform) is being organised under the HFFG’s TB project known as the ‘OneImpact TB Community-led Monitoring.’
It is a free software application that gives knowledge on TB, how it is spread, and treated, and facilities that provide treatment services.
The Stop TB Partnership Geneva, with support from USAID and the Global Fund provided the funds for the one-year (February 2022 to January 2023) project that is being implemented in four regions, namely, Greater Accra, Central, Eastern and Volta regions on a pilot.
THE HFFG is implementing the project in partnership with the Ghana National TB Voice Network, Stop TB Partnership Ghana, Young Health Advocates Ghana, Ghana Health Service and Ghana TB Control Programme.
Mrs Senoo said the training was to equip the trainers, who are mostly young people living with HIV and TB, to fully understand the digital App and also conduct training in their respective districts for TB advocates towards promoting accessible, equitable TB services.
Among the objectives of the training was to train advocates as trainers on the
OneImpact technology for data collection as well as to discuss the process of data collection and analysis for evidence-based advocacy at all levels.
It is also to discuss project activities, strategies and work plans for step-down and smooth implementation while building the capacity of participants on media engagement and effective communication.
It will also orient participants on the status of TB in Ghana and their roles in the programme.
Mr Jerry Amoah-Larbi, National Coordinator, Stop TB Voices, described the app as very important since public education on TB had reduced drastically in the media due to the lack of resources.
“So this is going to gather advocacy data for us to use in our advocacy work in our communities and in addressing stigma in accessing treatment,” he said.
OneImpact community-led monitoring empowers people affected by TB to claim their rights, access health and support services, and report and eliminate TB stigma and discrimination, he added.
Ms Priscilla Ama Addo, President of the Young Health Advocates Ghana, said the youth identified with the new app which would help them to access information.