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Regional News of Monday, 4 February 2008

Source: GNA

Help disaster victims with shelter before hot weather, CSM-GHS

Bolgatanga, Feb. 4, GNA. The Upper East Regional Health Directorate on Monday expressed fear of an outbreak of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis during the approaching hot season as victims of the recent flood disaster were living in crowded conditions. "The Upper East is sitting on thorns for fear of a CSM wave that comes every eight to fourteen years. One came in 1984, the next in 1996 and now this is 2008. With the crowding posed by the last floods we hope assistance will be forthcoming for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to rebuild their houses quickly before the hot season", Dr. Agana Nsire, Acting Regional Director of Health Service said.

Dr. Nsire, said this when he gave an address at a day's Advocacy Seminar on; "Responding to the sexual and Reproductive Health needs of Disaster victims in Bolgatanga". He appealed to the Government and NGOs to expedite action on assisting disaster victims to build their houses before the middle of March when the weather would get hot and crowding could easily spread the CSM germ. Dr. Nsire noted that the floods caused many health problems including, malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and chest infections to escalate, saying it would be prudent to take measures to prevent health hazards.

Dr. Nsire said due to the stagnant water left by the floods and the people sleeping in open places, many more suffered from malaria during the flood period from August to September 2007 than any other time. In the Bulisa District where the floods hit hardest, 25,000 cases of malaria were recorded in 2007 as against 14,000 in 2006. For the months of the floods, 11,000 people came down with malaria while 3,000 persons suffered from the disease during the same period the previous year, 2006.

Dr. Nsire expressed gratitude to all individuals and NGOs that helped the flood victims and said; "the pending cloud of potential disease outbreaks, especially CSM, the increase in malnutrition, resulting from food shortages and the collapsed health infrastructure estimated at over 1.5 Million Ghana Cedis still remain problems that cannot be borne by the Ghana Health Service alone." Mr. Alhassan Samari, Upper East Regional Minister noted that Government's attention was focused on reconstruction of social infrastructure, feeder roads and the emergency trunk road works of Kulungugu and Missiga-Garu bailey bridges. For Food Security, he said government had put in place strategic plans for the three Northern regions that included forecast of expected food production, estimating the inputs needed and the food needs of affected communities until the next harvest. "So far, government, through NADMO has provided large quantities of maize and 13,393 bags of rice, 6,596 packets of roofing sheets, 4,000 bags of cement, 18,250 pieces of blankets, and 16,250 pieces of mats".

Mr. Samari noted that the adverse effects of the flood would continue for many years and called on all stakeholders to continue to collaborate their efforts so as to ensure a more efficient and focused services to the people. The seminar, organized by the Ghana Health Service and sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was meant to draw the attention of Health Personnel to issues of Sexual and Reproductive Health in times of disaster. 04 Feb. 08

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