Kaleo-Na Paul, Chairman of the Retired Mine Workers Association in the Upper West Region has called on the Government and management of the various mining companies to pool their resources to build a special hospital for ex-miners to take care of their health needs.
He said currently most of them suffered from silicosis; cardio and heart diseases as well as tuberculosis infection, while some of them had also been maimed and needed special medical attention.
Kaleo-Na made the call at a general meeting of members of the Association and Executives of the Retired Mine Workers Foundation (REMWORF), a nongovernmental organisation (NGO) dedicated to promoting the welfare of ex-miners at Wa on Monday, March 2, 2007.
He explained that even though the gold in the colours of the National Flag have been recognised, the miners have been neglected in spite of their contributions towards the national economy.
"All that we hear is about fallen heroes and the big six and nobody talks about the plight of the miners whose sweat and toil brought economy prosperity to the country", he said.
"Many of our people are living in deplorable conditions amidst poverty and diseases", he said, adding; "some of them have now become a burden to their families".
He explained that the Colonial authorities used people from the three Northern Regions to serve as a labour pool for the mines and cocoa plantations, but regretted that no effort had been made to provide them with a medical facility to cater for their peculiar health needs.
He pointed out that several young men from the Upper West Region; especially from the Dagaba communities were recruited and sent to Obuasi to open the Obuasi Mines in 1847
Michael Bugri, Executive Director REMWORF, said research showed that people, who had worked in the mines for 10 years were vulnerable to 35 diseases, especially tuberculosis and chest diseases.
He said it was the aim of the NGO to mobilize retired miners to benefit from the poverty alleviation fund to undertake large-scale soya-bean, maize and groundnut cultivation in the Region to help to enhance their lives.
He urged members to disassociate the activities of the Association from politics, chieftaincy and religion and rather to foster unity within their ranks to benefit from the Government's pro-poor interventions.