Ignorance about emerging and preventable diseases and epidemics among Ghanaians is taking a toll on the people, Professor Kwesi Yankah, Provost Chancellor of the University of Ghana, said on Wednesday.
He noted that references to such catastrophes and calamities were considered verbal taboos, sometimes, unduly stirring national grief.
Prof. Yankah recounted various cases in some parts of Ghana, citing the Volta Region where strange diseases, such as unusual enlargement of testicles or swelling of the foot in vicinities encircled by ‘mountains of refuse dumps’ were attributed to spiritual forces by the people.
Opening a course in Epidemiology and Health Systems Management for District Health Managers from Sierra Leone, Prof. Yankah said diseases easily collocated with ignorance and illiteracy which constituted the bane of the African continent.
The course, organised to strengthen delivery of health services in five selected districts of Bo, Bonthe, Kenema, Tonkolili and Port Loko in Sierra Leone, was being run by the School of Public Health of University of Ghana with technical support from UNFPA and the African Development Bank.
The six-week course aimed at improving the skills of the district health practitioners in disease surveillance, outbreak investigations and management to enable them to organise and deliver appropriate health services in Sierra Leone.
The training, which was a project divided into three components, strengthening district health system, reproductive and child health programme and establishing project management team was to address the severe shortage of trained professionals and management personnel as a result of the protracted conflict accompanying attrition of human resource.
There are fewer than 100 doctors of varying ages and specialty mix, in active service whilst other health professionals are less than the required to deliver and cope with the services.
Prof. Yankah noted that the short course would help build bridges with the wider society and bring to bear the large research findings to find solutions to society’s manifold problems.
Mr Osman Foday Yansanah, Sierra Leone High Commissioner to Ghana noted that his country was facing the daunting task of rebuilding and equipping a health infrastructure that was destroyed during the civil war.
This he said had become more crucial to forge partnerships with development partners and the Ghana School of Public Health to train more health care givers and improve their managerial skills, which, “will go along way in augmenting individual national programmes to improve our collective human resource base”.
Mr Emmanuel Tofoatsse, UNFPA Country Representative to Sierra Leone, commended authorities of University of Ghana for accepting to train the participants and called for the intensification and scaling-up of good practices within the socio-cultural context of Africa.
UNFPA, he said, was poised to help Sierra Leone to achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) four and five which was to reduce maternal mortality by two thirds and fight child mortality.
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