Ghana creates action plan to end leprosy

21 December, 2021 | Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy

 

The National Leprosy Programme of Ghana, in collaboration with partners working to end leprosy around Ghana and the Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy, developed a Zero Leprosy Action Plan in the first week of December. The new action plan represents the combined work of every major stakeholder group in Ghana: the Ghana Health Service, the Ministry of Health, NGOs, academic and scientific institutions, and donor partners. It lays out specific targets for the next 10 years, key activities, and resources needed to propel the country to its goal of zero leprosy.

The National Leprosy Programme’s work in partnership with GPZL began in 2020 with the review of the country’s leprosy activities. Following the review, leprosy community members and local and international experts met in Accra to design a Zero Leprosy Roadmap for Ghana, which lays out goals for the next ten years on the country’s path toward zero leprosy.

Action planning was the next step in the Zero Leprosy Country Model, a set of country-led customized strategies that address local needs and priorities to end leprosy. The action planning process was led by Ghana’s National Leprosy Programme Manager, Dr Benedict Quao, and members of the GPZL Secretariat supported this work in-country. Over three days, this diverse group of stakeholders came together to design a joint strategy to achieve goals set forth in the Zero Leprosy Roadmap, including improving active case detection; improving case management, management of leprosy complications, and prevention of new disability; and advocacy for ending stigma and empowering persons affected by the disease. Through all of these issues, the group maintained a focus on sustainability by prioritizing integration with routine health systems.

Ghana’s Zero Leprosy Action Plan prioritizes interventions that will make impactful progress toward zero leprosy in the country. These interventions include increased efforts to make diagnosis and treatment available to persons affected by the disease all over the country, through capacity building for local-level practitioners, as well as the introduction of nationwide contract tracing. The Programme also plans to use geospatial mapping of cases to identify hyperendemic areas, as well as Single Dose Rifampicin Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (SDR-PEP) to interrupt transmission. Additional action plan priorities include training for community extension works to identify and refer potential leprosy cases, increased leprosy awareness education, and nationwide effort to ensure leprosy patients have the resources and services they need, including livelihood support and self-help and self-care group access.

GPZL congratulates the stakeholders involved in the creation of this Action Plan for Zero Leprosy, and the National Leprosy Programme of Ghana for taking this next step toward ending leprosy in the country.