Major Courage Quarshigah (rtd), Minister for Health, on Wednesday said government has provided over GHc 1.4 million to the ministry for the Guinea Worm Eradication Programme (GWEP).
He said the amount would be spent on the intensification of surveillance, treatment of guinea worm and support for other interventions to consolidate gains so far made in the eradication of the disease.
Major Quarshigah, who was speaking at the annual mid-year review meeting of the GWEP in Tamale, said since 2005 when the Northern Region was declared a guinea worm zone, government had made available about GHc 800,000 for interventions, including free treatment of the disease.
He said other measures taken were closer scrutiny of filter use, increasing access to potable water supply, supervision, emphasis on improving containment rates, engagement of guards to police dams to prevent contamination and provision of logistics and transport.
Major Quarshigah expressed satisfaction that these initiatives had resulted in the reduction of guinea worm in the 2007-2008 transmission period in the Northern Region.
He cited that a total of 167 guinea worm cases were reported in October-December 2007 compared with 1,165 cases recorded during the same period in 2006, representing 86 per cent reduction.
Major Quarshigah said the trend had continued into this year and as at June a total of 414 cases were reported compared with 3,021, representing 86.3 per cent decrease.
“This also represents the fifteenth consecutive month of case reduction since April last year. It also represents the highest percentage reduction in cases for any period since the programme started in 1989”, he said.
The Minister of Health said the disease had now been limited mainly to the Northern Region with 95 per cent prevalent rate and Brong Ahafo Region, which recorded a very low number of cases.
Major Quarshigah said only 19 guinea worm cases had been reported outside the Northern Region and that most of the people with the disease came from the region.
He said case containment rate had also improved remarkably since October 2006, going up from 65 per cent at the end of December 2006 to 80 per cent as at June 2007 and 85 per cent as at the end of May this year.
Major Quarshigah commended district assemblies in guinea worm endemic areas for enacting by-laws and providing dam guards to protect sources of drinking water.
He charged the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) and the Environmental Health Department of the assemblies to monitor activities at water sites and enforce compliance.
Major Quarshigah expressed the hope that a grant from the Millennium Development Authority to support the Tamale Water Expansion Project to guinea worm endemic areas would assist in consolidating and accelerating guinea worm eradication initiatives.
He urged district assemblies and district directors of health to intensify their efforts towards the eradication of guinea worm from the country.
Alhaji Mustapha Ali Idris, Northern Regional Minister, advised that traditional authorities should be invited to meeting of the GGWEP since they could offer useful suggestions towards the eradication of the disease.
He called on all stakeholders to work as a team towards the eradication of guinea worm to enable government to achieve its goal of making Ghana a guinea worm free the country.
Dr. Elias Sory, the Director General of Ghana Health Service, said provision of potable water and intensive surveillance were significant to the elimination of guinea worm and urged district chief executives to join the campaign to kick the disease out of the country.