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Auto-immune diseases in Ghana

March 25th, 2008 · 6 Comments

Noguchi Memorial Institute to begin research
Sharecare Ghana holds inaugural meeting

The Accra Daily Mail, Tuesday March 25, 2008

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The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) is to begin a study into auto-immune diseases in Ghana.
This was disclosed by officials of the institute at the weekend to members of Sharecare Ghana, a support group and association of people with auto-immune diseases and their families in Ghana.
The study being spearheaded by Dr. Margaret Armar-Klemesu, a nutrition expert, head of the Department of Nutrition at NMIMR and Dr. Michael Ofori, an immunologist is as a result of earlier discussions between members of the association and NMIMR on the seeming rise of auto-immune conditions in the country.
Officials of Noguchi agreed that a study needs to be done to establish the numbers as the basis for fuller research into the prevention and possible control of auto-immune diseases.
At the meeting, the Noguchi officials outlined the various diseases classified as auto-immune and the fact that they affect more women than men, but are more dangerous when they do affect men.
Members of the association welcomed the idea of research and said this initiative is long overdue. They said auto-immune diseases should be covered under the National Health Insurance Scheme since they all pay the NHIS tax directly or indirectly.
Founded in 1979, the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research is considered to be “the leading biomedical research institute in Ghana.”
Sharecare Ghana is the initiative of Nana Yaa Agyeman, herself diagnosed with Devic’s Disease, a close relation of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and has since attracted many members with similar or related conditions.
Auto-immune diseases and diseases of the central nervous system often don’t show a clear pattern of symptoms and are therefore difficult to diagnose. The symptoms may include some or all of the following: numbness, vomiting, loss of body co-ordination and muscular spasms, vision impairment or loss, fatigue, tingling sensation, weight changes, depression, constipation, diarrhea and others.
Auto-immune diseases include the following: Rheumatoid Arthritis, Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Transverse Myelitis, Neuromyelitis Optica (Devic’s Disease), Lupus and others. Ghana’s healthcare delivery system is more geared towards the treatment of diseases like malaria, HIV/AIDS, the five killer diseases in children with very little attention being paid to other equally debilitating ailments.
There is practically only one practicing neurologist in the country, whose work load gets heavier by the day as a result of the rising numbers of people being diagnosed with auto-immune diseases.
Please see ADM editorial.

A good initiative worth supporting
The Accra Daily Mail Opinion, Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The story about Noguchi Memorial Medical Institute agreeing to start research into auto-immune diseases in Ghana is welcome indeed.
This is one area where research, diagnosis, treatment and professional care are almost ignored by the country’s healthcare delivery system, but from all indications, which is as debilitating as any of the more popular ailments that attract all the attention and funding.
Though a Disability Act has been passed by the government, very few people know that many disabilities are as a result of auto-immune diseases.
If disability is so important as to have an Act of Parliament passed to support people with disabilities, is it not equally important for the country’s healthcare delivery system to turn its attention to the causes of some of those disabilities?
That is why we are very happy with the initiative Noguchi has taken to research into the seeming rise in auto immune diseases in Ghana. Funding of course would be the main problem.
We therefore wish to call on health authorities and establishments, philanthropists, corporate Ghana and the international donor agencies to support Noguchi’s noble initiative.
It may be a small area of research but could yield huge amounts of data that would eventually support the treatment and elimination of the better known ailments like malaria and HIV/AIDS.

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 mo // Mar 26, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    awwww im sooo excitedddd

  • 2 ghanagirlnyc // Mar 26, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Same here! Congratulations on a successful first meeting!

  • 3 ghanagirlnyc // Mar 26, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    I’m sure you saw this article: http://www.myjoyonline.com/features/200801/13080.asp

  • 4 Candy // Apr 3, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Wow!!
    Well done Nanie, You have gone over the first hurdle and from here on it will be fruitfull.

    We are with you all the way. God Dey!!
    Much love

  • 5 george // Sep 24, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    naana i take inspiration from ur boldness and openness to discuss autoimmune diseases. my mother is suffering RA [Rheumatoid Arthritis] she was diagnosed some 18mths ago and her life has changed since. i will appreciate it if u can give me details of hospitals that have specialty in treatment of these diseases. hope to hear from u soon

  • 6 Lara Cookey // Oct 1, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    I am very pleased to know of the existence of this group. I have been suffering silently with nobody to talk to here in Ghana. This is a welcome development. Myasthenia Gravis of which I have been diagnosed is dibilitating and i would like to meet other sufferers.

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