The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has presented motorcycles valued at ¢200 million to the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment, to support guinea worm eradication in the Northern region.
The five beneficiary districts are Savelugu/Nanton, Tolon/Kumbungu, Tamale, East Gonja, and Yendi, all guinea worm endemic areas.
Dr. Seidu Korkor, National Coordinator of the Guinea Worm Eradication Programme, presented the motorcycles through the Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji Mustapha Ali Idris, in Tamale.
Dr. Korkor said guinea worm disease had become a focal problem and limited mostly to the region, which recorded almost 90 per cent of all cases with the five districts accounting for nearly 80 per cent of reported cases.
He said guinea worm cases was on the decline in the region, citing that in 2006, the disease was reported in 604 communities as compared to 1,017 communities in 2004 but added that "Most of the cases reported were unfortunately in the Tamale area."
Dr. Korkor said from January to February this year, a report indicated that while 1,754 cases were recorded countrywide 1,199 cases, representing 68 per cent, came from Savelugu/Nanton District, with Savelugu township alone accounting for over 35 per cent of the cases.
He said as part of efforts to stem the spread of the disease, government, through the District Assemblies, had engaged 'dam guards,' under the National Youth Employment programme, to police all dams in the endemic areas.
Dr. Korkor disclosed that the Assemblies have also enacted by-laws to control human activities that militated against guinea worm control programme.
He announced that the Information Service Department and the Department of Community Development would soon begin tours of guinea worm prone districts to sensitise the people about the disease and the National Disaster Management Organisation offices in the five districts had also been asked to ensure the enforcement of the by-laws.
Alhaji Idris said President Kufuor had taken the resurgence of the guinea worm disease in the country very seriously, and he would soon appoint a Special Assistant in charge of guinea worm eradication who would be directly responsible to the President.
He said President Kufuor wanted the disease to be eradicated from the country before the end of his tenure and therefore urged all stakeholders in the eradication exercise to be more pro-active.
Alhaji Idris urged the officers who would be using the motorcycles to handle them properly and ensure that they were used for the intended purpose.