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Faecal Contamination Is Root Cause Of Cholera   
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Faecal contamination of the environment, has been identified as the root cause of an annual average of 1,800 cases of cholera affecting Ghana, Water Aid Ghana (WAG), a non–governmental organization has revealed.

Water Aid noted also that “open defecation costs Ghana 79 million dollars per year, yet eliminating the practice will require less than one million latrines to be built and used.”

Mrs Martha Osei, a Member of the WAG Advisory Committee, gave the figures at a meeting of the organization with the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, in Accra, on Wednesday.

The meeting was for Water Aid, currently celebrating its 30th year of working in Ghana, to brief the Committee on options and recommendations for improving new born and child health, by integrating the provision of water and sanitation facilities and services in every district in Ghana.

Mrs Osei said the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Project, being executed by the WAG, has the potential to prevent eight per cent of death and 10 per cent of disease burden in developing countries.

“Approximately, 19,000 Ghanaians, including 5,100 children under five,  die each year from diarrhoea, -nearly 90 per cent of which is directly to poor water, sanitation and hygiene,” Mr Osei said, adding “poor sanitation is a contributory factor, through its impact on malnutrition rates-to other leading causes of child mortality including malaria and measles.

She said WASH programming reduces the number of child deaths related to diarrhoea diseases,  by 65 per cent, and underlined the need for access to clean water and safe latrines, for communities wanting to stop the spread on bacterial diseases.

“Poor wash is linked to childhood under nutrition, cognitive delays and stunting. Open defecation is a determinant of stunting and prevents children from growing tall and becoming healthy, productive adults,” Mrs Osei said.

She advocated interventions, such as nutritional supplements, combined with improved sanitation and hand washing with soap, to reduce stunting by 4.5 per cent.  

A briefing note at the meeting, quoting a communiqué from a request from the Ministry of Finance to WAG, the Coalition of Non Governmental Organizations in Water and Sanitation, and the Universal Access to Health Campaign Coalition, for civil society input into the national budget in 2014, said Ghana recorded one of the worst cholera outbreaks in 2014.

Eight of the 10 regions of Ghana were affected. Also the World Health Organization has reported a cumulative figure of 14, 411 cases, including 127 deaths.

Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Chairperson of the Committee, praised the WAG for the briefing, and stressed more of such interactions.

He advocated for the provision of more clean water in the communities.

”Clean water can make a big difference,” he said, adding “we have to get  change of heart and mind.”
Source: GNA

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