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25.01.2007 Health

Measles Gone, Guinea Worm Still Here

By Daily Graphic
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The story that Ghana has recorded no deaths from measles since 2002 shows that the campaign to deal with the disease has been successful.

It is the wish of all that death from this most dangerous viral disease which affects mostly children will be a thing of the past.

The effort to deal with measles was intensive; no wonder immunisation against the disease reached 83 per cent, thanks to the commitment of our people and the genuine partnership with international agencies such as the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

We are forever grateful to all those agencies which co-operated and collaborated with our own national institutions to achieve that success. The agencies knew that we would be able to make it.

Unlike measles, the incidence of the guinea worm disease (GWD) is still with us, even though reports indicate that cases in the Wa area in the Upper West Region, an endemic area, have gone down.

The reports give room for joy, even though the desire is that that debilitating disease would be wiped out in no time.

We should not underestimate our power to wipe out the GWD because with education, half of the battle would be won. The remaining half would mean the provision of boreholes or hand-dug wells which will serve as sources of drinking water for people in the endemic areas.

Evidently, this parasitic worm disease is prevalent in poor communities where there is no safe drinking water for the people.

Conscious of the fact that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) encourage developing countries to strive to eliminate water-borne diseases, including GWD, strenuous efforts should be made to provide the endemic areas with safe water.

However, before the provision of safe water, public education on the need for the affected to avoid wading through sources of drinking water is of great importance.

Happily, the Health Ministry has doubled the fund for fighting GWD from ¢5 billion to ¢10 billion an indication of commitment towards the eradication of the disease.

Besides, the people in the endemic areas should be encouraged to sieve or boil their drinking water to avoid contracting the disease.

The negative impact of the disease on the productivity of its victims is incalculable. The afflicted are unable to carry out their farming activities.

Consequently, the poverty level of the affected worsens with GWD. Clearly, if the battle against GWD should succeed, it would call for effective co-operation from all who have a role to play in the effort — people in the endemic communities, the government and the agencies which are helping.

We should succeed; we dare not fail.

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