For the past 10 years, Buruli ulcer has been eating Benjamin Essel’s leg. The skin above his ankle is totally gone, and a swollen, pulpy and reddish wound rises almost up to his knee and wraps around his calf. Even still, this is an improvement over recent years.
On the grubby edge of Old Fadama, Accra’s infamous illegal slum settlement, 67-year-old Mariana Sayitou sits under a parasol and tends to her livelihood – selling several dozen kola nuts and a few piles of bagged beans to passers-by.
Mary Mingle thought she had a boil on her breast, so she bought some medication and tried to treat it at home. Two months later, bothered by persistent pain, she went to the doctor.
Emmanuel Joseph and George Amoah, two disabled Ghanaians, occupy different ends of the spectrum. The former lies on a piece of cardboard in Accra Central, his half-naked body twisted and mostly paralysed, the sun beating down on him while he waits to collect three dollars, the average proceeds of a day's begging.
Kobina's legs are dappled with scars. He gets them flitting across the beach in Sekondi, in southwest Ghana, slipping in the soot-black mud and clambering over pirogues slippery with fish guts, only to sell a sachet of water or a freshly peeled orange to fishermen working on the shore.