There are a number of sicknesses you can die from but the possibility that children will become seriously ill or die from the six killer diseases in Ghana is dependent on whether their immune systems can fight off infections or not. That's why it's important for parents to take their children for vaccination at every appointed time given by the doctor. The fatal infant diseases are common in the tropics and spread easily. The mortality rate of children is very high.
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The world has, however, made remarkable progress in the past few decades in reducing the number of children who die from childhood diseases. The total number of deaths of children under the age of 5 years worldwide has declined from 12.6 million in 1990 to 5.4 million in 2017. Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia record the highest deaths from childhood diseases that kill, and many are as a result of poor sanitation and a lack of access to medical care. Ghana on its own in the last decade has done a lot to introduce many types of vaccines into the health system to enable children have access, reducing the six childhood killer diseases in Ghana.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals, set in 2015, aim to reduce the deaths of children under-five years from 43 to 25 per 1,000 live births. The biggest challenge has been the lack of robust healthcare infrastructure, including a lack of healthcare professionals and access to medicines and vaccines for people in the poorest countries.
The six childhood killer diseases in Ghana are preventable and treatable through simple and affordable interventions. Here are the names of the six killer diseases in Ghana:
It is perhaps the most infectious of all the fatal infant diseases, from up to seven (7) days before to five (5) days after the appearance of rashes. Measles is an acute infectious disease caused by a virus, paramyxovirus and endemic in large metropolitan areas but seasonal, usually in the dry season, in small areas. It usually occurs in children between 6 months and 3 years who have not been immunized or have been incompletely or unsuccessfully immunized.
The disease can also come in the form of what is known as a typical measles or modified measles. A typical measles is usually found two or three years later in children previously immunised with inactivated measles vaccine whereas the modified one is found in children previously immunised with gamma globulin.
Children with measles, one of the six killer diseases in Ghana, show signs and symptoms of runny nose, high fever before rash appears, cough, diarrhoea, sore throat, conjunctivitis, rash starting from the head and neck before moving down the body and being generally miserable. It then comes with complications such as otitis media, bronchopneumonia, malnutrition, diarrhoea, activation of latent tuberculosis and skin infections especially fungal infection. The treatment of measles is done by providing broad spectrum antibiotics, calamine lotion, restraining the hand from the eyes and ears and maintaining good nutrition.
Measles is a communicable diseases that infects children who have not been immunized. Children who have contracted the disease show signs of diarrhoea, conjunctivitis, and rash among others and can be prevented through immunization.
2. Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Whooping cough is an acute infection caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis and common in developing countries due to poor sanitary conditions. There is a high morbidity and mortality rate and the younger the age of onset, the higher the possibility of mortality. The killer disease acts by making patients have clear nasal discharge, cough many times without stopping to breath, and eventually coughing up sticky mucus. During the attack, the child's lips and fingers may turn blue, have episodes of breath cessation and vomitting which may be fatal. Patients end up having complications of bleeding, malnutrition, pulmonary collapse and bronc hop pneumonia. It can be treated by giving the patient frequent small meals or erythromycin or ceporex syrups.
The infectious disease acts by causing inflammatory reaction in the wind pipe and bronchioles, leading to the production of abundant mucus. This leads to episodes of breath cessation which can be fatal. It can be prevented by getting vaccinated with the DPT Vaccine at six weeks, ten weeks, fourteen weeks and a booster dose at eighteen months of age.
Spread through droplets when a patient with open tuberculosis coughs out, the contagious disease caused by mycobacterium tuberculosis may affect any part of the body but the commonest site are the lungs. It is not prevalent among children as in adults but to prevent it, it's essential for every child to have the BCG vaccination.
Tuberculosis is airborne and spreads fast. Children who contract it usually depict features of general malaise and apathy, loss of appetite, loss of weight and light dry cough. Evening pyrexia and night sweat are not common but may appear. They also have slightly elevated temperature that is persistent, normally lasting for 2 to 3 weeks. When a child is infected with the sickness, they could die from it as it affects all organs in the body including the brain, kidney, abdomen and bones.
Tuberculosis can be treated by having adequate nutrition with balanced diet and vitamin supplements. Drugs or injections can be taken. Drugs used are Streptomycin, Rifampicin, Isoniazid, thiacetazone, Pyrimidone and others.
Tuberculosis is a very contagious disease and it affects all parts of the body. In children, it can take a long time before manifesting and since it is airborne, it spreads fast. Patients show signs of general malaise and apathy, loss of appetite, loss of weight and light dry cough.
This is an infection by a bacteria called Corynebacterium diphtheria. The bacterium results in the production of greyish-white membrane or patch on the throat. It produces its effects by the release of toxins. Fortunately, the disease is rare these days. Children with the disease show the following features: Sore throat, nasal discharge, unpleasant odour from the mouth and upper respiratory tract obstruction with barking cough and laboured breathing.
Complications like myocarditis, neuritis and palatal palsy are some effects of the fatal infant disease. It can only be treated with antitoxin, penicillin or erythromycin if there is allergy to penicillin. To prevent one's child from getting diphtheria, there is the need to vaccinate them with DPT vaccine at six weeks, ten weeks and fourteen weeks with a booster dose at eighteen months.
Diphtheria is an infectious disease whose carriers have greyish-white membrane or patch in their throat. Children with the disease have unpleasant odour from the mouth and upper respiratory tract obstruction with barking cough and laboured breathing. It can be prevented by giving the child the DPT vaccine.
Fatal disease caused by clostridium tetani, the infection of an open wound. The bacteria lives in the soil so an open wound can easily get infected by it. When one contracts tetanus, noise, bright light, touching the body or moving part will trigger muscle spasms. Babies with tetanus are unable to feed, have stiff body, show signs of irritability and constipation, and the tongue and lips become blue. It can be treated by using drugs, maintaining clear airway and taking injections.
Tetanus is contracted through open wounds from the bacteria clostridium tetani found in the soil. Because they are in the soil, one could easily become infected when wounded. Children depict symptoms of spasms, stiff body, blue tongue and lips. It can be treated by taking injections and drugs.
Poliomyelitis is a viral disease recognised in the community as a weakness or paralysis, especially of the legs of children. Being one of the most crippling diseases in the tropics, it is contracted as a result of poor hygiene and it is spread through insanitary disposal of excreta, which contaminates drinking water. Children experiencing the disease show symptoms of fever, headache, neck stiffness, muscle pain and then begin to experience the paralysis which affects little by little, groups of skeletal muscles.
Treatment of Poliomyelitis can be by setting the paralysed limb by splinting, analgesic antipyretic, nasogastric tube in bulbar polio, calipers when necessary or giving intermittent positive pressure ventilation (IPPV) if breathing is compromised.
Prevention of the disease is almost certain if 4 doses of oral polio vaccine is given as in the immunization schedule. Proper disposal of excreta is a way of preventing the disease.
The disease is a viral disease that causes paralysis normally in the legs of infected children. It leads to the crippling of children experiencing it and it is caused by improper disposal of excreta which contaminates drinking water. It can, however, be prevented when children are immunized on schedule.
People have become aware of the six killer diseases in Ghana, but there are new additions of fatal diseases like hepatitis B, pneumonia and yellow fever. Pneumonia, for instance, has been rated as a prime cause of mortality in children under five years in Ghana.
In conclusion, it is clear that theses diseases can be prevented, therefore, parents should make sure their babies are immunised and that they practise good sanitation.
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