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Reviewing the Past, Present, and Future Risks of Pathogens in Ghana and What This Means for Rethinking Infectious Disease Surveillance for Sub-Saharan Africa


The current epidemiological transition makes us wonder how the parallel of infectious diseases (IDs) might be at the end of each passing year. Yet, the surveillance of these IDs continues to focus on high-profile diseases of public health importance without keeping track of the broad spectrum of the IDs we face. Here, we presented the prevalence of the broad spectrum of IDs in Ghana. Data from the annual reports on Gold Coast now Ghana, Global Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology Network (GIDEON), and the District Health Information Management System II (DHIMS2) databases were examined for records of ID prevalence in Ghana. Using the IDs from these databases, the paper assessed the epidemiological transition, pathogen-host interactions, spatiotemporal distribution, transmission routes, and their potential areas of impact in Ghana. The topmost ID recorded in health facilities in Ghana transitioned from yaws in the 1890s to malaria in the 1950s through 2020. We then presented the hosts of a pathogen and the pathogens of a host, the administrative districts where a pathogen was found, and the pathogens found in each district of Ghana. The highest modes of transmission routes were through direct contact for bacteria and airborne or droplet-borne for viral pathogens. From GIDEON, 226 IDs were identified as endemic or potentially endemic in Ghana, with 42% cited in peer-reviewed articles from 2000 to 2020. From the extent of risk of endemic or potentially endemic IDs, Ghana faces a high risk of ID burden that we should be mindful of their changing patterns and should keep track of the state of each of them.

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Journal Article
Mahama PN
Kabo-Bah AT
Blanford JI
Yamba EI
Antwi-Agyei P
Wang R