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Diseases in Ghana

We will start by emphasizing that dis-ease is an abnormality, only common where poor hygiene is the norm, thus controllable.  Do not read this laundry list of existing diseases and feel bound to get one.  There are some symptoms that you are bound to experience, but once you commit to your wellness and stay diligent with your preventatives, your health will reflect a well being.

You will also note that there are several wellness centers and a first rate hospital available for you to choose:

Now that we established that we won't die, let's go ahead and tackle these diseases.

  • Malaria

Malaria causes the greatest concern and threat to travelers in tropical parts of Africa.  It is transmitted through the anopheles mosquito which comes out from dusk till dawn and breeds in still water.  The first symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and headache. 

The most logical prevention is simple, wear long pants and long sleeves as the evening approaches, especially at the beach.  Secondly, we suggest taking the bitter, bitter Nim tea once a week.  This tree is just about everywhere in Ghana and acts as an anti-bacterial agent for the liver, where the malaria parasite takes host.  Thirdly, one can get a prescription for Lariam or choroquine. Two weeks prior to your trip you must start taking the pill and up to 2 weeks after you return.  This is probably the most common route, but it should be noted, due to the active agents in  these drugs many people have suffered terrible side effects.

We have tried and tested all forms of cures for malaria.  Our greatest success was with  radiopathic treatment.  Presently we are only aware of one doctor in Ghana employing this revolutionary means of curing, not only malaria, but just about all other diseases as well.  His name is Dr. Gregory Lugu-Zuri, 021-315-553 or 021-315-472.
Artesunate is also an excellent cure for malaria.  It is a Chinese pill, some say it is herbal, but it reads like a drug, nonetheless, if taken from the onset of symptoms it works well to bring down the fever and minimize the overall effects.
The most common remedy is to go to the doctor and receive drips of quinine.  Again, terrible side affects are associated, but it usually gets the job done. 
click here for greater detail

  • Travelers' Diarrhoea

Travelers' diarrhoea is most common with persons unaccustomed to tropical travel, though it can occur to the most seasoned.  It results from feeces getting on your food and into your mouth.  It can also be transmitted from contaminated water.

The best prevention is to insure the cleanliness of the food you intake.   When taking a meal from a restaurant, try your best to get it hot off the stove and DO NOT buy food off the streets.  When buying fruits, peel them yourself (their knives are not usually hygeinic) and avoid eating raw foods until you have had the chance to properly wash them, preferably in salt water.  Also, be sure to buy bottled water, preferably 'Voltic'.

The worst part of diarrhoea is dehydration, to the most important part of treatment is to take in plenty water.  Sachets of oral rehydration give the perfect biochemical mix, but any dilute mixture of sugar and salt in water will do.

  • Bilharzia

When someone with Bilharzia, a.K.a. schistosomiasis, excretes into fresh water (lakes, ponds), the eggs hatch and swim off to find a pond snail to infest.  The worm grows inside the snail to emerge as  acercariae, barely visible to the naked eye, but able to penetrate human or animal skin.  People are susceptible when swim or bathe in infested water.

"The snalils which harbour bilharzia are a centimetre or more long and live in still or slow-moving fresh water which is well oxygenated and contains edible vegetation (water-weed, reeds).  The risk is greatest where villagers use the water.  Wading in slow-moving reed-fringed water near a village thus carries a very high risk of acquiring bilharzia, while swimming in a rocky pool below a waterfall in a forest carries a negligible risk."

"Only a proportion of those cercariae which penetrate the skin survive to cause disease.  The absence of early symptoms does not necessarily mean there is no infection, but symptoms usually appear two or more weeks after penetration: typically a fever and wheezy cough.  A blood test, which should be taken six weeks or more after likely exposure, will determine whether or not parasites are going to cause problems.  Treatment is generally effective, but failures occur and re-treatment is often necessary for reasons that aren't fully overstood, but which may imply some drug resistance.  Since bilharzia can be nasty illness, avoidance is better than waiting to be cured and it is wise to avoid bathing in high-risk areas."
"Guide to Ghana" by Philip Briggs

This is unfortunate, because you will feel compelled to stay out of lakes that you haven't even seen in the movies.  Picturesque!

  • Meningitis

"The tell-tale symptoms are a combination of a blinding headach , a blotchy rash and a high fever.  Some form of immunization protects against the most serious bacterial for of meningitis and ins usually recommended for Ghana.  Other forms of meningitis exist but there are no vaccines available for these.  Local papers normally report localized outbreaks.  If you show symptoms, get to a doctor."
"Guide to Ghana" by Philip Briggs
Unfortunately we have not encountered the local remedy, but as soon as we learn it, we will pass it on.  But bare in mind it is only really a concern in the North, above Kumasi, in the region containing Tamale and Mole National Park, during dry season.

  • Tetanus

 You would be surprised at how much more likely you are to fall and bruise here.  It is undeniable and you will see why.  For this reason it is good to be up to date with your Tetanus protection.  As you know, you can get a ten year shot or you can check with Newton Labs and get the homeopathic remedy.

  • Typhoid

I am sorry, but typhoid is not to be left out.  This is the one I fear.  Fear, not because it has power over you, it doesn't and can be avoided as easy as anything, but when you are here long enough you start to break your own rules, and where I say DON'T EAT FROM THE STREET! Sometimes I do and this is out typhoid gets you.  Hygiene is not what you might know hygiene to be on the streets, period.  Your cook will change her baby and collect some money with the same hand that cooks your food.  But unlike diarrhea, this one can get you.  It is quiet and sneaks up on you.  
For further details click here.

  • Polio

Polio cases are a common sight, and therefore proper vaccination is suggested.  As with all vaccination, we strongly suggest homeopathic alternatives to the needle.  The Food and Drug Administration has put certain restrictions on homeopathic manufacturing companies, thus you will find difficulty getting information on the vaccination unless you talk directly to a representative.  It is not even advertised on their web-sites, just the same, an excellent product is sold by www.newtonlabs.net

  • Pertussis

During maise (corn) harvest in certain villages, you will find a high rate of the children with pertussis (whopping cough).  The native youth generally withstand it, due to some years of resilience, but it can be quite challenging to a child coming from the other side.  Very dangerous for youths under 2 years of age, and quite unsafe for youths under the age of 15.  Adults do catch it, but that is more rare.  Again, prevention and cures available in homeopathic remedies.

  • Yellow Fever

Proof of an international immunization certificate is required upon entering Ghana. A Yellow Fever vaccine is not valid until ten days after your vaccination and lasts up to ten years.  It is the only required 'shot' and possibly the least common sickness.