Sunday, July 5, 2015

Govt puts in measures to contain cholera



By Edmund Smith-Asante, ACCRA
Faecal waste pouring directly into the sea at Lavender Hill
 The government has put in place measures to stop this year’s cholera outbreak from escalating into an epidemic, Mr Kweku Quansah, a Programme Officer of the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate (EHSD), has said.

Mr Quansah said one of the steps that had been taken was collaboration among various stakeholders, since cholera prevention and control had suffered a lot of fragmentation. An inter-ministerial committee on cholera has been put together to push the regional and district stakeholders to take action and had so far made some consolidated plans to stop the spread of cholera this year, he added.

Mr Quansah said the activities to tackle cholera were centred on education, law enforcement and infrastructural development and the various stakeholders were using information vans to sensitise people, while cholera treatment centres were being set up to deal with any outbreaks.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic at a cholera sensitisation and training workshop for 20 selected journalists from various media houses in Accra last Thursday, he gave an assurance that “we are rolling out a lot of activities to make sure we bring the cases to the barest minimum this year.”
Ninety per cent of the cases reported this year were in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA), while the Volta and Central regions also reported a number of cases.

Conservative figures from Dr Emmanuel K. Dzotsi, the Public Health Specialist at the Disease Surveillance Department of the Ghana Health Service put the current figure at 601 cases and five deaths from 31 districts in eight regions across the country, with a case fatality rate of 0.8 per cent.

Mr Quansah cautioned that although Ghana was doing better this year as compared to last year, the country was not yet out of the woods because the rains had just set in. He said many interventions had been put in place to forestall an epidemic of the proportion of last year’s outbreak.

In 2014, Ghana experienced its severest cholera epidemic in three decades, which registered 28,975 cases with 243 deaths from 130 out of the 216 districts in all 10 regions. The outbreak carried over to 2015 contributing to the current number of reported cases in the country.

Interventions
Mr Quansah said most of the activities to stem the tide on cholera are focused on Accra, since each year Accra was the starting point of a cholera outbreak. “Once we are able to stop cholera from spreading even within Accra, half of the battle would be won,” he stated.

The two-day training and sensitisation workshop was to educate the selected journalists on causes, prevention and effect of cholera. As part of the training, the journalists went on a field trip to open defecation prone sites in Accra and some cholera endemic communities.


This story was first published by the Daily Graphic on June 22, 2015

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