The Ghana National TB Voice Network, a tuberculosis (TB) focused organisation, has organised a workshop for support groups in the Upper West Region to equip them with advocacy skills in the campaign against TB stigmatisation.
The workshop was held to share experiences for effective advocacy on the rights of TB patients and support them in the effort to get full treatment.
Mr Jerry Amoah Larbi, National Secretary of the Network and a resource person at the workshop, said stigmatisation has impeded treatment of TB and eroded the self-confidence of many patients who have defaulted in their treatment.
He said there is the need for people affected by the disease to be included in the Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty (LEAP) programme to help them get full treatment at least within the first six month period of their medication.
Mr Larbi said pressure from family members for TB patients to attend to “native doctors” first before hospitals have led to the aggravation of the disease on many patients.
In some situations where patients refused to attend to “native doctors”, they were neglected in the community and this has even led to some committing suicide, he said.
The Network National Secretary said TB and HIV/ Aids are quite linked as TB kills HIV/ Aids patients more than any other disease.
Mr Larbi asked the volunteer groups to raise awareness about the disease and its treatment saying “TB is curable and drugs for its treatment are available and free for patients”.
Government should also increase its commitment to the funding of TB/HIV/Aids and Malaria instead of depending on donor countries for funding.
Mr Mintah Yeboah, Upper West Regional TB Coordinator, said high poverty levels has contributed to the spread of TB in the communities and urged the regional network to work harder in the effort for more to adhere to treatment.
He told the volunteers that TB was not all about cough as other other symptoms include chest pains, fatigue, night sweat, fever, chills and weight loss.
Mr Yeboah said management of TB is very important because if care was not taken, before the exit of a patient, somebody else’s may have also been infested.
Madam Faustina Salifu, a Senior Nurse at the Fever’s Unit of the Wa Regional Hospital, appealed to TB patients to register with the National Health Insurance Scheme and avail themselves for medication.
She also appealed to the general public to voluntarily come to the hospital and be tested for TB as a way to help reduce the spread of the disease in the communities.
By Bajin D. Pobia, GNA