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Health News of Friday, 20 March 2015

Source: Starrfmonline.com

Poor sanitation costs Ghana USD290m yearly – World Bank

Ghana loses about USD290 million yearly as a result of poor sanitation and bad hygiene, according to the Ghana Coalition of NGOs in the water and sanitation sector (CONIWAS).

“The water and sanitation programme of the World Bank estimated that Ghana loses USD290 million annually–at the current rate of USD1 to Ghc3, which amounts to about Ghc879 million–because of the country’s inability to make improved sanitation and hygiene services available to the population,” said Benjamin Arthur, Executive Director of CONIWAS.

At a press conference held in Accra Thursday to analyse the 2015 budgetary allocation to the water and sanitation sector, Mr Arthur said: “Approximately 19,000 people including 5,100 children under the age of five die each year of diarrhoea, nearly 90% of which is directly attributed to poor water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services.”

He said: “USD54 million is lost each year in accessing health services.”

Touching on the yearly cholera outbreaks, CONIWAS said: “Faecal contamination of the environment is the root cause of an annual average of 1,800 cases of cholera affecting people.”

“It is estimated that the cost of WASH response to such outbreaks is about USD1.2 million every year.

“This by implication means the cholera outbreak in 2014 which affected about 20,000 people would cost the country about USD13.3 million, excluding other economic implications as cost relating to loss of productivity.

“In all these, it is the poor and vulnerable, especially women and girls who bear the burden of the negative impact of the poor WASH services. For these category of persons, the burden is not only that they cannot access improved services, they spend higher percentage of their incomes on accessing health services in case of diseases outbreak,” CONIWAS noted.

The group added that: “Two of the major challenges facing the WASH sector is inadequate budgetary allocations, investment and untimely releases of budgeted resources to Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to implement their action plans. However, a study conducted by the World Health Organisation in 2004 showed that USD1 invested in WASH services would yield an economic return of between $3 and $34, depending on the region and choice of technology. This return of investment in WASH services would be an envy for investors in stocks/shares on the Ghana Stock Exchange.”