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VRA Holds National Forum On Schistosomiasis Control   
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Volta River Authority (VRA), has organised a National Schistosomiasis Control forum to promote a comprehensive stakeholder involvement in the Schistosomiasis control and eradication in the country, in Akosombo on Thursday.

The initiative would also increase public awareness of Schistosomiasis as a public health importance for national development and develop an integrated national plan for sustainable Schistosomiasis control and eradication in the country.

It also forms part of Schistosomiasis Control Initiative Ghana, to harness the existing strengths and opportunities in Schistosomiasis research and control gained over the years with the objective of achieving sustainable control leading to possible eradication.

The event, which was on theme: “Building Sustainable Partnership for Schistosomiasis Control’’, brought together about 150 participants, including representatives from governmental and non-governmental health institutions, traditional authorities and human rights advocates.

Others were programme implementers, researchers, evaluators, professionals in Schistosomiasis, development partners, and donors.

Participants were taken through topics such as overview of Schistosomiasis Control in Ghana, Reaching out to Schistosomiasis Endemic areas and Sustainable community involvement.

Others topics include, Integrating Existing National Health Resources, Identifying and Reaching Targets and Stakeholder Participation, Development of the Strategic Framework and Research, Monitoring and Evaluation.

In Ghana, Schistosomiasis is major water borne parasite disease associated with poverty in most rural setting with a widespread and occurrence in all the 170 administrative districts.

The prevalence rates are high with more than 90 per cent in many endemic communities, and it is estimated that about seven million school-age children are risk of infection.

Speaking at the conference, Mr. Kweku Andoh Awotwi, Chief Executive Director of the Volta River Authority (VRA), expressed hope that the conference would serve as turning point of drastically eradicating Schistosomiasis in the country.

He said the disease was dreadful. which could hinder the country’s progress in attaining the Millennium Development Goals.

He said VRA within the last ten years had spent about GHC 400, 000 million on combating the diseases, but had not yielded much progress in eradicating the disease.

Mr Awotwi mentioned activities undertaken by VRA control the disease as aquatic weed and Bilharzia control, Onipa Nua Medical Boat outreach programme, dredging, pest control and environmental and water quality monitoring.

He called on stakeholders to find appropriate and cost effective way of addressing control and eradication of the disease.

Mr Awotwi said VRA would provide assistance for the residents of the Lower Volta Basin in the form of provision of toilets and portable water to help control the disease.

Dr Daniel Kertesz, Country Director of World Health Organisation (WHO), said addressing the disease was not a health problem, but a developmental issue, which called for effective involvement of stakeholders to eradicate the disease.

He said the economic health impact of Schistosomiasis was problematic and undermined productivity of the country.

He said: “We should turn strategies into actions in order to fight the disease,” and pledged the WHO’s commitment to supporting Ghana to control and eradicate the disease.
Source: GNA

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