Health News of Tuesday, 19 August 2014
The Ghana Water and Sanitation Journalists (GWJN), an association of Journalists with interest in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) issues is concerned about the number of deaths linked to the recent outbreak of cholera in Accra alone over the last three weeks.
As many as 40 deaths and over 4000 reported cases of cholera have been reported in Accra alone, according to reports in the media.
As a result, the Health Directorate of the Greater Accra Region has declared this year’s outbreak, an epidemic. This development is most unfortunate especially when the World Health Organization (W.H.O)’s report on 2013 indicated that Ghana did not record any cholera related deaths last year.
Currently, over 3,700 Ghanaian’s die every year because of diarrhoea diseases such as cholera, attributable to a lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene. If the spread of cholera is not controlled this number is likely to rise.
These deaths and infections could have been avoided if efficient sanitation services (household toilet facilities and proper disposable facilities for liquid and solid waste) were available in many communities in the country. About 86% of Ghana defecate in the open because most people do not have basic toilet facilities in their homes and public latrines are not well maintained. Open defecation exposes human excreta, making it easy for flies to carry the pathogens in the excreta to human beings. The GWJN is of the view that marginalized communities must be mobilized to build household latrines to prevent people from defecating in the open. This will significantly reduce the annual encounter with cholera.
The GWJN recognizes that the Government has a tall list of needs to meet. However we are appealing to the Government to make sanitation a priority by allocating more funds to ensure that our environment is clean and healthy. District Assemblies must be given enough resources to engage communities to understand the causes of these preventable diseases and supplement existing community resources to provide clean water and good sanitation services.
The activities of Waste Management companies contracted to keep our cities clean must be monitored to ensure that they efficiently provide the expected services.
One question we would like to ask is what has become of the waste treatment plant initiated through a Public Private (PPP) Partnership project at Adjei-Kotoku, near Nsawam? Also, what has become of the promises to build similar plants to contain the waste that we generate across the country? We need to find a permanent solution to problems associated with waste management in the country.
We commend the Vice President of Ghana, Kwesi Amissah Arthur for his recent efforts at getting the capital city cleared of filth. We hope such efforts will continue till Accra and Ghana as whole is clean.
We also urge our colleague media men to provide the public with the requisite information to motivate citizens to adopt safe hygienic practices especially hand washing with soap under running water after using the toilets and before eating. We Journalists also have a role to play in enlightening the public to reduce the spread of the disease.
The GWJN is therefore calling on all Ghanaians to play their individual roles to ensure that we rid our country from sanitation related diseases.