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13.03.2009 Health

Tamale may experience cholera outbreak

By Edmond Gyebi, Tamale - Ghanaian Chronicle

Residents of Nyohini, in the Tamale Metropolis, are currently confronted with severe environmental problems, which are likely to cause a cholera outbreak.

Early in 2008, a severe outbreak of Cholera hit the metropolis, particularly Bayan-waya in the Tamale South Constituency, leading to the deaths of about 19 people, with several others hospitalised.

Health officials, during that unfortunate period, attributed the outbreak to poor waste management emanating from open defecation, indiscriminate dumping of waste, and lack of potable drinking water among others.

Since the incident, the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly (TMA) then headed by Mohammed Adam Amin-Anta, together with the Waste Management Department and Zoomlion, adopted pragmatic measures to stem similar occurrences.

However, the inhabitants of some communities in the metropolis have awfully failed to develop a sense of responsibility and belongingness in managing and ensuring a waste-free environment.

When The Northern File visited the Nyohini community, it was detected that the people were not conscious of the negative effects or the consequences of their omissions, as they keep dumping refuse and defecating indiscriminatingly in the area.

Even though the area has about seven public toilet facilities, including Kumasi Ventilated Improvec Pits (KVIPs), semi-KVIPs and pit latrines, as well as two waste containers, they are being mismanaged and under utilised by the people.

The residents are now illegally using a vast government land behind the Ghana National Fire Service Department as a refuse dump site and place of convenience for both males and females.

The Assembly Member for the Nyohini Electoral Area, Mr. Bismark Sulemana, told The Northern File that the practice of open defecation had persisted in the area for the past 60 years.

He disclosed that several educational programmes had been undertaken by some departments to ensure the people maintained proper sanitation, but all to no avail.

The Assembly Member therefore anticipated the possible outbreak of epidemics in the area, should the people's attitudes remain uncharged.

Mr. Sulemana, however, blamed the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly for failing to clear the rubbish regularly in the last two years.

Some of the inhabitants of the area, in an interview, complained that the refuse had been finding ways into their homes, and were posing a serious danger to their health.

They appealed to the officials of the Assembly to address the issue immediately, before the rains begin.

Most children in the area had turned the sites into playing grounds, which easily exposes their health to risks.

The Chief of the area, Nyohini-Dana Abdulai Mahama, said the problem had been there for a long time, and pleaded with the government to do something about it. He said the whole area was stinking making breathing very difficult.