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06.02.2009 Social News

NGOs call for improvement of essential services


The Essential Services Platform (ESP), an umbrella of coalitions in health, education, water and sanitation, on Thursday described the state of essential services in the country as “poor” and called on the new political administration to revamp them.

They made the call at a press conference organized to raise public awareness about the state of essential services.

Mr Patrick Apoya, Executive Secretary of Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), said essential services were fundamental to human survival and to a life of dignity, adding that these should be universally provided to all.

“This position is supported by the universal declaration of human rights in (Article 25) and the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights,” he said.

Mr Apoya said their aim was to ensure that government made provisions of good standard living such as food, clothing, housing, health care and other necessary social services.

Mr Benjamin Lartey, a member of CONIWAS, said in the water sector it was alarming to read from the 2008 October monthly report of Aqua Vitens Rand limited (AVRL) suggesting that there were still no reagents and in some cases equipment to test for lead, mercury and arsenic.

He said citizens drawing water from wells in the metropolis were in reality drawing water contaminated by faecal matter and parthenogenesis organism.

The categories of people who rely on the contaminated wells are those who have either been disconnected or communities who are still waiting to get connected to the water supply network.

Mr Lartey said according to the World Bank's sixth poverty reduction support credit on May 1, 2008, water production had fallen by 15% and this was not a good sign for a country which had privatized its water management services.

He added that (AVRL) had imported used water meters from Holland which had to be repaired and reset to meet Ghanaian specifications.

Mr Lartey also said that the country was still struggling to clean its cities and towns. The rapid accumulation of solid waste by the roadside is an eyesore and health hazard especially at a time when a cholera outbreak is at record high.

He said it was a fact that only 10% of Ghanaians had access to improved toilets according to WHO and UNICEF.

Mr Lartey said the National Health Insurance Scheme policy stipulated that vulnerable people and indigents should be treated for free, yet vulnerable people like the People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) paid for anti-retroviral drugs, with subsidy from the Global Fund which was time bound hence not sustainable.

On Education, he said the debate raging within the public domain concerning the duration for senior high was “missing the point” and that CONIWAS was ready to support the extra one year.

Mr Lartey also said teachers posted in towns and villages outside the major cities went through difficulties to get to work. Lack of social services such as water, good sanitation and road network among others discouraged them from staying in deprived areas.