20 May 2013

Ghana: Health Experts Warn of Possible Cholera Outbreak

Poor personal hygiene and unsanitary environmental management in the Bolgatanga Municipality and the rest of the Upper East Region have given health experts cause to warn residents to be wary of a possible cholera outbreak.

The level of indiscipline and lawlessness in the management of sanitation issues in the Bolgatanga Municipality has become a major source of concern to health experts such as promoters, disease control officers, and public health directors.

Health experts say should there be cholera outbreak in the municipality or any parts of the region, its impact and casualty level could be very high.

Cholera is an acute diarrhea infection caused by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the cholera germ. It affects both children and adults, and easily spreads from person to person, making outbreaks potentially explosive, if not detected and control measures instituted early.

Speaking on Health Agenda, a weekly health programme produced by Passion Multimedia Services, a local multimedia agency in Bolgatanga, and aired on A1 Radio on Thursdays, Mr. Williams Amankwa, Disease Control Officer at the Bolgatanga Municipal Health Directorate, bemoaned the poor level of sanitation in the regional capital, and warned that in the event of a cholera outbreak, its impact could be devastating.

He said even though the Municipality had not recorded the disease for some time now, the way and manner in which residents defecate freely, litter the environment, and the way food vendors prepare and handle food, could help spread the disease faster should it break out.

Over 85% of private and rented houses in Bolgatanga do not have toilet facilities. This situation compels residents to compete for little spaces in between houses for open defecation, which is known in the local parlance as "free range".

To make matters worse, the residents have cultivated the uncivilised and uncultured habit of dumping rubbish at any available space, including gutters and market places.

These practices, Mr. Amankwa warned, could serve as breeding grounds for cholera through houseflies.

He was on the programme with his Disease Control Officer, Mr. Collins Addo. The two officers, therefore, entreated residents to practice good personal hygiene at all times.

Parents and guardians, as well as teachers, should also teach the little ones how to keep themselves clean, and avoid coming into contact with filth.

Some tips to avoid cholera: cook food thoroughly, eat cooked foods immediately, store cooked foods carefully, reheat cooked foods thoroughly, avoid contact between raw and cooked foods, wash hands repeatedly with soap and running water, and use safe water.

For people with diarrhea, the biggest danger is loss of water from the body, and they should therefore drink a solution of oral rehydration salts made with safe water. They should also report immediately to the nearest heath facility.

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