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Opinions of Friday, 21 October 2005

Columnist: Ayiku, Charles Nii

Is Ghana Ready For Bird Flu?

The Bird flu issue is gradually taking a different turn each and every day. The Bird flu disease is spreading very first and as a Ghanaian living abroad, I am scared about Ghana?s preparedness towards fighting the disease. I can confidently say that Ghana is not ready to fight this disease. I know most Ghanaians are more serious with other things rather than fighting issues such as diseases and corruption.

According to scientists, it is predicted that very soon, bird flu would be seen as a force to reckon with in Africa and those who come in contact with sick birds can contract it and millions of people worldwide could die if it mutates into a disease communicable among humans. So the question is, if Europe which has all the resources to fight the spread is still battling with it, how can Africans with little or no resources be able to stop it?

I cannot tell the reaction of Ghanaians since the bird flu was first announced. I believe some Ghanaians might have stopped taking chicken and its related stuff, but a majority of Ghanaians are not and even those aware and are still enjoying it. Others are also making plans to purchase chicken for the Christmas celebrations. They see death as ?all die be die?.

Ghanaians have always given very special ?respect? to chicken. Chicken in Ghana is seen as food for the rich and privileged. In Ghana especially in the cities, you can find a lined up of fast food joints also know as ?checkcheck? every where. These joints prepare all kinds of food especially rice and chicken. Our restaurants, chop bars and eating places also sell chicken and its related stuff.

So it is clear that, if Ghana should start experiencing the bird flu disease, it is going to kill a lot of people.

Therefore is our government ready should this bird flu attack our motherland?

Have our governments started moves at diagnosing it quickly?

Do we have the resources, such as veterinarians and laboratories?

Have we made the necessary moves to acquire vaccines which I hear are not currently available in Africa?

Is the government also ready to compensate owners of poultry farms, and others who rear poultry should their poultry be killed during the eradication exercise?

It can be estimated that, about several trillions of cedis will be needed to control bird flu in Ghana. Are we ready to release such funds in order to save lives? Or started negotiation with foreign donors and experts on this matter?

But before I end, I hear the United States rejected the beef donated to her from Britain and they (US) are in turn looking to dispose of them. They are also finding needy population especially the developing world to get the supplies to them.

I know Ghana is a needy Country, but please Ghanaians do not accept such supplies, because the US Agriculture Department officials are not even aware of the expiry dates.



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