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24.08.2005 Feature Article

Our markets, our food our health

Our markets, our food our health
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A GNA feature by Fauziyah Sai (AIJC Intern)

Accra, Aug. 23, GNA - "Our markets, our food, our health" may sound like a slogan or a poem, but that should be the national focus in the forward march to control communicable diseases.

Malaria, diarrhoea, hepatitis and dysentery, among other diseases, are hardly associated with the filth that has engulfed most markets in Ghana, where traders sell food items oblivious of their contributions towards the spread of such diseases.

Managers of Accra markets cannot escape blame for the filth that is sold to the public at these markets. One may ask: Do human beings cherish the land on which they dwell and do they realize the harm that is incurred from the environment when it is not kept clean? Is it not strange that those who sell and buy near refuse dumps seem not to bother?

The filth in the markets should make the people feel uncomfortable since one's health solely depends on the environment and the food eaten. Selling food under unhygienic conditions brings numerous diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, malaria and many other deadly diseases to humans.

Two basic areas form the basis of good life - sanitation and health. Therefore, if Government is able to step up its current average contribution to streamline resource allocation, the country would get somewhere.

The Minister of Science and Environment, Ms Christine Churcher has urged the private sector to actively participate in waste management. That is a normal refrain, and the question is whether this is the beginning of the end of apathy towards the huge waste management problems the country has.

She said although the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) was doing its best, there was still the need for other organisations in the private sector to collaborate with it to find a lasting solution to waste management.

She said this at the sixth annual public lecture organised by the Ghana Medical Association in Accra on the theme: "Environmental Sanitation, Law and Order and Health".

The lectures are aimed at bringing together members of the public to discuss environmental sanitation problems impacting negatively on health and building the necessary consensus to influence policy. The Minister called on the youth to actively join the campaign against waste to forestall environmental degradation.

She said the Ministry had developed a programme dubbed: "The Child And The Environment" which is aimed at inculcating into children the attitude of appreciating the environment and working to sustain it. Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin, Omanhene of Akyem Abuakwa and Chairman of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said the protection of the environment must be the concern of all, since environmental sanitation problems were mostly due to human activities.

He urged the Government to take matters of the environment seriously by allocating sufficient resources to the sector in national budget and putting environmental and health problems high on its strategy to save life.

Osagyefo Amoatia said the future depended on the environment adding: "One has to live in harmony with other species but not to destroy them."

The Deputy Minister of Heath, Dr (Mrs) Gladys Ashitey called on the general public to help in waste management problems since they affected the health of all.

She said if the snag of waste management were dealt with, it would help in wealth creation and promote good life.

The environment is a priority for all, so all must help to maintain it. Malaria still lingers and the disease has taken a lot of lives although strenuous efforts were being made to curb it.

The statistics are rather cold. Recently in the Techiman Municipality, it was noted that malaria cases had increased with 18,825 cases recorded within the first six months of the year as against 15,463 recorded the same period last year.

The disease accounted for 38.7 per cent of Outpatient Department (OPD) cases this year compared to the 48.87 per cent recorded last year, Mr Henry Offei-Akoto, Municipal Health Director, said this at a mid-year performance review of the health directorate in Techiman.

Mr Offei-Akoto attributed the rise in the cases to the monitoring and reporting of the disease by 16 health facilities as against four previously.

Mr Osei-Akoto said 12 re-treatment centres for mosquito nets had been established in the Municipality and appealed to health personnel to educate the people to patronise the centre to help to control malaria. With communicable diseases posing a huge problem to health managers, the cheapest and easiest way to curb them is taking a look at environmental sanitation and personal hygiene.

"Our markets, our food, our health" clearly is certainly not a slogan or a poem.

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