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General News of Friday, 22 February 2008

Source: GNA

Ministry set to tackle sanitation issues

Accra, Feb. 22, GNA - The Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment is currently collecting data on measures being taken to address sanitation issues that would serve as a baseline to access responses in tackling sanitation.

Mr. Demedeme Naah, National Director in-charge of Environmental Health and Sanitation Unit at the Ministry, who announced this on Friday in Accra, explained that the Netherlands was sponsoring the data collection, which would end by March.

"By the close of the year, the strategy, implementation and investment plans on sanitation would be ready to enable us to access support from local and foreign sources to tackle our sanitation challenges," he said.

Speaking at an environmental consciousness programme organized by Youth for Christ Heritage (Yufrist), a non-governmental organization, Mr Naah said the data collection exercise was being done since lack of data and inadequate funding for sanitation projects had been identified as major challenges in addressing the issue.

"The current state of environmental sanitation in the country can be described as a crisis situation. With the absence of adequate data to describe the actual situation on the ground, it is visibly clear in our cities, towns and communities that the situation is indeed bad." He said low political will to enforce regulations and the negative attitudes and perceptions about sanitation were the other challenges. Mr Naah said the 1999 policy on sanitation was also being revised to help meet current trends of sanitation issues and it was at present at cabinet level.

Mr Jehoiada Amuzu, Executive Director, Yufrist, called for the use of research and practical measures to raise the environmental consciousness of Ghanaians.

"We need to use drama, audio and visual images in both the urban and rural areas before Ghanaians would see issues of environmental cleanliness and sanitation as a serious problem. "This is what Yufrist has decided to do by using drama, visual images in schools, market places, lorry parks and within communities to appeal to the conscience of people on the need to keep a clean environment."

He said with the slogan: "Do the right thing at the right time at the right place", the organization hopes to raise awareness on sanitation to help fight the root causes of malaria and cholera with selected communities, including Abokobi Madina and Okai Koi North and South constituencies.

Mrs. Cynthia Bosumtwi-Sam, National Director, School Health Education Programme (SHEP), gave a presentation on SHEP and stressed the need to keep the environment clean, especially within schools where children were nurtured or trained for future endeavours.

She said the members of the public must be encouraged to wash their hands with soap, before and after eating as well as after visiting the toilet since this would keep people away from sicknesses. She warned: "One gram of excreta can contain 10,000,000 viruses, 1,000,000 bacteria, 1,000 cysts and 1,000 parasite eggs. We should therefore avoid contaminating our food with excreta either through flies or by our hands". 22 Feb. 08

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