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The neglected woman with a neglected disease

Outside Bawku Central , a 43-year-old woman walks with her entire legs covered.  She raises the left leg slowly so that she can take a step.

From her look, she seems so happy with life, but beneath this look is a heart of pain and rejection. Sadia Mamudu is suffering from elephantiasis caused by a parasitic worm, transmitted by mosquitoes.

The disease has affected her lymphatic system, resulting in severely swollen, painful leg and reduced mobility.
She suffers from hardening and cracking of the skin, frequent sores and fever.

Sadia is held captive by rejection and despair. She is unable to work and shunned by many. Sadia believes she is doomed to a life of pain and poverty.

“I was never born with that disease. I had a normal growth from childhood to womanhood and up to the moment I gave birth. My husband and myself travelled to Abidjan in search of a job.”

“There, we worked on a cocoa farm until one day, during our usual works on the farm, a wood pricked my leg. This caused a tiny scratch on my leg which later developed into a boil. After several unsuccessful attempts to burst the boil, I was hospitalized. In fact, I was 9 months pregnant at the time.”

Five years after Sadia’s marriage that she started seeing signs of the disease. Battling with the disease for 20 years, the 43-year old woman’s life is overshadowed by anguish as her condition continues to deteriorate.

Many health facilities she visited could not find a cure for her illness, as she is now low on financial resources. Two weeks of admission to the hospital yielded no positive results. She had no choice but to resort to herbal treatment.

But the first herbalist Sadia visited, failed to find a cure for her leg. The second herbalist, however, caused the boil to burst after a successive application of some selected herbs.

“The pus that came out afterwards, gave me some little relief.” At this point, Sadia could sense she was pregnant but could not stand nor walk.

“After two months in bed, I gave birth and miraculously, I was able to walk on the day I gave birth but with the help of a walking stick.”

Sadia and her husband returned to Ghana to find a cure for her condition. She visited many health facilities again, but all in vain. Her husband, Saeed Alarm, took her to a herbalist in Burkina Faso.

“It wasn’t long enough for us to get back to Ghana to seek a complete cure to my sickness. My husband took me to a herbalist in Burkina Faso. I felt completely cured after 3 weeks of herbal treatment.”

Sadia says her husband left for Ghana to secure money to settle the bills. Three days after the husband returned to Burkina Faso, the leg got swollen again to the surprise of the herbalist.

“This time, not only did have swollen leg, but I also had a severe headache.” Her condition became worse and Sadia had trouble breathing. She was unable to eat and drink. She says it was a bad experience.

“I was in that condition for 2 weeks. In the 3rd week, a considerable amount of pus spilt from my nostril in a way that made me wonder if I had a boil in my head. It was after that I realised I could now breath well with an improvement in my diet.”

Painfully,  the savings she made in Cote d’Ivoire went to drugs. She has no money left on her. Sadia says she has spent over ¢15,000 treating herself. Her husband, she added, ended up abandoning her and five children.

She has no means of livelihood and cannot also afford to take good care of her children as one of them now has two children out of wedlock.

The challenges that come with daily upkeep for her children and their children are compounding. Sadia lives in a five-bedroom apartment with the children who have left school due to financial challenges.

If Sadia is treated, get back into society and able to work, her children will be able to attend school again. The family will have a greater chance to prosper.

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