Accra, June 12, GNA – Only 60 persons have so far called to seek assistance from the Tuberculosis Health Desk (TB) since its establishment, in March, at the Adabraka Polyclinic in Accra.
Dubbed: the ‘Greater Accra Regional TB Call Desk’, the centre, with four telephone lines, provides tele-consultations and guidance to the public on all manner of cases regarding the disease.
Mr Dziedzom Awalime, the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at the Greater Accra TB Control Unit, told the Ghana News Agency that the situation was not encouraging considering the World Health Organisation’s estimation that 286 out of every100, 000 persons in Ghana had TB.
The WHO also estimates that persons with active TB infect about 10 to 15 close contacts per year, and two thirds of all infected patients die without treatment.
Mr Awalime attributed the low patronage to the lack of awareness on the facility and urged the media to make it part of their public service duty to continually publish or broadcast the helplines.
On the kind of enquiries the callers made, Mr Awalime explained: ‘While some called to complain about themselves or their relatives coughing for a period, others called to get directions to the nearest health centres for screening.
He said some of the callers invited the Desk to their programmes so that it could educate people about tuberculosis.
Mr Awalime said the Desk recorded its highest patronage in March, shortly after the facility was launched because the phone numbers were readily available in the newspapers, on radio and television.
‘Though the facility was meant to serve people in the Greater Accra Region, others from the Ashanti, Eastern and Western regions called in for assistance since the numbers were available’.
However, very few persons called in April and May due to the unavailability of the numbers, he explained.
He expressed the fear the that the calls would stop altogether for the purpose to be defeated if much publicity was not given to the Desk’s existence.
The Help Desk can be reached on WhatsApp line: 0245-220-095 and voice call lines 0509-135-913/ 0279-292-884 and 0263-400-490 for officials to receive and help callers on their specific needs.
The Desk was launched on March 24 as part of activities to mark the World TB Day.
TB is a contagious disease that generally attacks the lungs.
However, it t could also affect other parts of the body, including the spine, bones, skin, eyes, scrotum and even the brain. TB can also affect animals.
The two kind of TB are Pulmonary and External Pulmonary TB. External Pulmonary TB can result in hunchback or spinal pain, infertility in both men and women and meningitis.
Most External Pulmonary TB infections do not have symptoms, therefore, for diagnosis; one has to be taken through a highly sensitive laboratory investigation known as the Gene Expert. This kind of TB is not transferable.
People with low immunity, diabetic and HIV patients, pregnant women and the aged are at a higher risk of contracting the disease.
When diagnosing a person of Pulmonary TB, he or she is taken through a basic examination known as the smear micro-Sputum test.
The diagnosis of active TB is based on chest X-rays, as well as microscopic examination and the culture of body fluids.
By Agnes Ansah, GNA