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16.08.2004 General News

Government to give priority to guinea worm endemic villages

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Accra, Aug. 16, GNA - Dr Kwaku Afriyie, Minister of Health, on Monday said the Government would continue to give the highest priority to guinea worm endemic villages in the rural water supply programme and had authorised the release of 1.7 billion cedis from the Donor Fund to improve surveillance of the Guinea Worm Eradication Programme (GWEP).

The Ministry was collaborating with the Ministry of Works and Housing to provide water to guinea worm endemic villages under Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC), he said.

This was contained in a speech read for Dr Afriyie at this year's Mid-Year Review of the GWEP in Accra. He said so far about 180 out of the planned 290 boreholes had been drilled in the Northern, Volta and Brong Ahafo Regions, the three most endemic regions.

The objective of the review meeting is to ensure an effective surveillance system in 100 per cent of villages that have reported cases in the last three calendar years.

It is also to ensure that radio messages and jingles on the disease were broadcast at least twice weekly during the peak period of transmission on all available stations in the three top endemic regions.

The Minister noted that it was unfortunate that the meeting was not celebrating the demise of the disease but rather to draw the attention of all that a great task still lay ahead in the quest to eradicate the disease.

He, therefore, challenged stakeholders in the fight to take seriously the goal of the Government to stop its transmission and to relieve the citizens entirely of the disease.

"We can't be doing business as usual. We must adopt new strategies and forge ahead to interrupt transmission within the shortest possible time.

The Ministry would continue to mobilise resources to support the desired goals by December 2005."

Dr Seidu Korkor, National Programme Manager, said Ghana remained the most guinea worm endemic country in West Africa with 8,290 cases in 2003.

He noted that the country again remained the most endemic in the world next to war-torn Sudan.

The proportion of villages under surveillance was still low and the progress of the HIPC initiative was also very slow, he said, and called on Regional and District Directors of Health to scale up an active and effective Community-Based Surveillance system as a matter of urgency to help in the eradication of the disease. 16 Aug. 04

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