Sunday, September 22, 2013

Vigilance needed to prevent cholera deaths — UNICEF

Mr David Duncan

UNICEF Ghana's Chief of Water Sanitation and Hygiene, (WASH) Mr David Duncan, has cautioned the country to continue to be alert, in order to put deaths through cholera, at bay.

Although he lauded Ghana for not recording any deaths as yet through cholera this year, he indicated that the worst case scenario of torrential rains, which normally contributed to widespread cholera, had not been experienced as yet.

Mr Duncan thus urged Ghana's WASH sector players not to take things for granted and not to rest on their oars.

'It's been a particularly dry year. And while it doesn't diminish the values of having no significant cholera outbreaks, it highlights that we need to continue working on it - we need to continue to be vigilant,' he admonished.

The UNICEF Chief of WASH was making a statement at the validation of a draft WASH Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan (EPRP) that has been put together by a WASH in Emergencies (WinE) Technical Working Group, at the 37th edition of a monthly National Level Learning Platform (NLLAP) organised by Resources Centre Network (RCN) of the International Resources Centre (IRC).

Commenting on the draft EPRP, Mr Duncan said he was impressed about the quality of work that had been put into it, but emphasised that as it was a living document, sector players could still input it as and when necessary.

He said the plan offered a window of opportunity to some of the initiatives being worked on in the water and sanitation sector, adding, 'Because we are not having to respond to cholera outbreaks it gives us a bit of a breather on our shoulders.'

Mr Duncan also asked all organisations represented to own the final document because they would have to deliver on it.

Delivering a statement on behalf of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Mr Frederick Addae, Director, Water Directorate, said: 'Secure access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation is especially critical during emergency situations', while 'lack of safe water and sanitation can cause serious diseases, especially to children.'

Emphasising that it was by dint of hardwork and coordination among organisations involved in WASH in emergencies that Ghana had not experienced any cholera deaths this year, he said the large number of cholera cases experienced by the country a year ago, underscored the importance of preparedness and response planning.

Assuring that leadership of Ghana's WASH sector was committed to the safety and wellbeing of all Ghanaians, Mr Addae stated; 'Upholding this commitment, requires careful planning and consistent adherence to plans we make for ourselves.'

Outlining the objectives of the WASH EPRP, Mr Enoch Ofosu, Water Resources Engineer (Specialist) and Coordinator of the WinE initiative said it was to provide a reference document before, during and after emergencies and to set standards for preventive practices in emergencies through periodic simulation exercises.

He said the plan was also to raise public awareness on the realities of emergencies, practice prevention and control mechanisms, to integrate WASH risk reduction measures in all disaster response plans or situations.

Further, he said it was to aid in adapting appropriate technology for WASH in emergency response and also provide adequate level of commodities and logistics prior to emergency response situations.
Chair for the validation, Mrs Ruth Arthur, Chief Disaster Control Officer, NADMO said the Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan was charting a course for all Ghanaians for a long time to come.

The 2012 Global Assessment and Analysis of Sanitation and Drinking Water (GLAAS) report was also launched at the validation event.

This was first published by the Daily Graphic on September 14, 2013

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