In the weekend a relative called my friend and in an upset voice conveyed how her five year old son had been severely bitten by a stray dog. She had of course rushed her child to hospital and he had been attended to, his wounds cleaned, but now she needed money for Tetanus shots for her son. The cost was 200 GHC ($100) .
Now let me add the following facts:
Ghana Statistical Survey (2008):
Average annual household income in Ghana is about GH¢1,217.00 whilst the average per
capita income is almost GH¢400. With an average exchange rate of GH¢0.92 (¢9,176.48)
to the US dollar prevailing in June 2006, the average annual household income is
US$1,327 and the average per capita income is US$433 (Section 9.8). There are regional
differences with Greater Accra region recording the highest of GH¢544.00 whilst Upper
West and Upper East regions had less than GH¢130.00. Urban localities had higher per
capita income than rural localities.
All patients with a bite should receive a tetanus shot, given the risk of tetanus after all kinds of bites, not just those of dogs and cats.
Note the figures above are averages (and from 2008, but the dollar estimate is likely still relevant). I think they show that a Tetanus treatment, though needed after a dog bite, might be out of reach for the average Ghanaian and those earning less – as it costs the equivalent of a monthly household income. Not everybody can pay that or find someone who can, especially on short notice which a dog bite situation requires.
In this case, my friend said, no problem and handed over the money to the upset, but now grateful, mother. The woman who called my friend was lucky to have a relative with that kind of money in pocket. But should children’s lives depend on luck?
Ghana, I am tired. Let’s prioritise well. Please let’s make sure no child dies from a treatable infectious disease like Tetanus.