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POOR SANITATION POSES HEALTH HAZARD IN GHANA

For people in the western world such as Europe and North America, it is a matter of course to have a flushing toilet and running water in their home. There are washrooms at your workplace. In addition, when you are away from home you will find some facilities in restaurants, shops, gas stations or anywhere else. There might be a few summerhouses in the woods of northern Sweden who still have their drop toilets behind the house, but those are the exceptions.

 

In Ghana, the situation is significantly different. In the larger cities, some private homes have running water and flushing toilets. However, even in the office buildings in downtown Cape Coast you will not find such facilities. Every now and then you can see a man urinating in the ditch near the roads which is not only uncommon in the first world but people can also be fined in several countries for „peeing in the public“. Moreover, it gets even worse when you come to the rural areas of Ghana.

 

One example is Moree, a fishing town of roughly 2000, a few miles west of Cape Coast. In Moree, none of the fisher's huts has running water. All the villagers have to claim their water from a hand full of fountains throughout the town and bring it home in buckets.

Therefore, with no continuous water supply and no canalisation system there are no private toilets either. All they have in Moree are a few public facilities.

There are three flushing toilet facilities around town. The fee is 10 p per use. Once they are filled up, they will be emptied by a truck, which approximately takes one day.

Somewhere near the beach there are also drop toilets, one men's and one women's site. Instead of using those facilities, some people even decide to just let it run down at the beach. At the end of the day, it does not really make a difference because the faeces from the drop toilets will be washed away by the sea, too. To make it even worse is the fact that people also wash in the sea without soap or any other sanitizer.

Although there is a company called Zoil who for a monthly charge of 50 GHC clean up the beach every morning, it is not very hard to imagine that this lack of hygiene can cause serious health problems.

 

Just recently, there has been an outbreak of Cholera in Ghana again. By March 18th, 2011 there were be around 4000 cases reported of which 60 were fatal which 482 new cases just last week. While Ghana capital Accra has been hit the worst, there are already four regions, one of them being the Central Region, affected by the disease.

Joseph Amankwah of the Ghana Health Service said,

“This is a major outbreak. It’s a major concern,” and “Cases are on the increase. … We need to address the risk factors aggressively.” (Source: Reuters).

Cholera is a bacterial disease spread by contaminated water and food. If caught early can be easily treated by oral rehydration fluids. If not treated, it can kill in hours.

“I wouldn’t say it’s out of control but it’s alarming so we need to step up preventive efforts,” said Sally Ohene from the World Health Organisation.

 

Poor environmental sanitation is, next to poor access to potable water and open drainages, one of the major risk factors supporting the spread of Cholera and other diseases.

With all this in mind and a real health threat knocking on our door right, know it is not hard to imagine that it is mandatory to have major improvements in the Ghanaian sanitarian system. Because that is critical to control the outbreak of Cholera and will be the most effective way to prevent the epidemic from spreading faster and claiming more lives. - 

 

Posted by Central Press Newspaper 

CLEAN GHANA

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