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General News of Monday, 23 February 2009

Source: GNA

Volta region eradicates guinea worm but HIV/AIDS soars

Ho, Feb 23, GNA - The Volta Region recorded no case of guinea worm in 2008 but slumped in the area of HIV/AIDS with more than a 100 per cent increase in reported cases.

Dr. Sam T. Kwashie, Acting Regional Director of Health Services, in a report to the region's health performance review conference on Monday in Ho, said the fight against guinea worm was "a major breakthrough" but that of HIV/AIDS, was "rather alarming". The five-day conference was under the theme "Improving Health Delivery Service: A Focus on Discipline, Supportive Supervision and High Impact Rapid Delivery (HIRD)".

Dr. Kwashie said the trend to eradicate guinea worm in the region became clear in 2007 and that the last case of indigenous guinea worm was reported in May 2007, after which only one imported case from the Northern Region was detected in June 2008 and promptly contained. He stressed that "vigilance will be maintained in the Volta Region and complacency will not be given a foothold until Ghana is completely free from guinea worm".

Dr. Kwashie said the number of persons with HIV/AIDS in the region increased from 377 in 2006 to 1,306 in 2007 and 2,799 in 2008. He said "This unfortunate situation calls for intensified public education and the urgent campaign for a change in sexual behaviour since over 80 percent of HIV infections in Ghana are through sexual transmission". Dr. Kwashie announced that the measles elimination campaign was right on course, with the region recording only one "confirmed case in 2008 just like it did in 2007".

He said there was a modest reduction in the number of maternal deaths in 2008 thus 52 as against 65 reported in 2007, pledging that the region would do better in the coming years. Dr Kwashie said reported cases of cholera in the Keta Municipality, Krachi-East and Nkwanta districts had been contained with the "daily incidence of cases reduced markedly in recent weeks, although the problem exists".

He said there were 10 deaths in the 410 cases reported in the Keta Area, three out of 63 cases in the Krachi-East and no death out of the 15 cases in the NKwanta Districts.

Dr Kwashie said the region's health sector was hard pressed by financial, transport and human resource constraints. He said there were only 27 out 177 medical assistants needed and that 80 per cent of the 50 midwives in the region were above 50 years and transiting into retirement. Dr. Kwashie expressed regrets that out of the 11 general practitioners posted to the region recently only two, both females, reported.

He stressed the need for a well-disciplined workforce for essential service providers such as the Ghana Health Service to achieve its goals.

Mr. Joseph Amenowode, Volta Regional Minister, charged the Regional health Directorate to improve its coordination with the Regional Coordinating Council to devise ways of checking the HIV/AIDS spread in the region.

He said the correlation between the health of the people and wealth generation should imbue health professional to do their utmost to implement policies to improve the wellbeing of Ghanaians. Mr. Amenowode, a Psychotherapist, urged the conference to provide input into government suggestions to improve the National Health Insurance Scheme.

He commended some health facilities in the region for coming up with mission statements, in line with the trend to improve performance of public sector institutions. Mr. Amenowode said only the people-centred approach to organization of these facilities, with management and the workforce imbued with professionalism, transparency, integrity and discipline could improve output.

He promised to liaise with the Regional Health Directorate to tackle problems preventing doctors from accepting posting to the region.

Dr. John Eleeza, Ho Municipal Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), told GNA that clinical investigation were in the process to explain the strange disease that affected about 20 people in the Anfoeta-Gborgame community in January, this year. He said no fresh cases of the disease, which sent the otherwise healthy people into fits, had been reported lately, and that all victims were well. The conference decorated Mr. Livingstone Dzisa Futokpor, a Private businessman, for providing structures for a clinic at Klikor, in the Ketu-South District. Mr. Futukpor since 1994 when he donated the building had refurbished it, provided additional rooms for child welfare and reproductive health sections and also paid for 60 trips of sand to shore up the area against floods.