21.09.2005 Regional News

GPRS cannot be achieved with emergence of guinea worm - Miss Mbillah

21.09.2005 LISTEN

Gbrimani, (N/R), Sept. 21, GNA - Lamisi Mbillah, Miss Ghana 2005, has observed that the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy would not be achieved if the guinea worm disease was not eradicated. She called for hard work and commitment of resources to provide potable water, the lack of which was a major factor for the spread of the disease in the rural communities.

Miss Mbillah was addressing separate durbars of chiefs and people of Gbrimani and Chirifoyili in the Tolon/Kumbungu District, the leading district with reported cases of the guinea worm in the country. Last year the District recorded 1,260 guinea worm cases with Gbrumani accounting for 210 of them. This year the District against registered 739 guinea worm reported cases with 77 of them coming from Gbrimani.

Miss Mbillah said if Ghanaians played down the disease into the background, "we shall come to have a bigger problem on our hands and as time goes on, it will be called the Ghana worm instead of the guinea worm".

She was in the Northern Region this time round not to show her beauty to the people but to sympathise with the woes of those afflicted with the guinea worm and also to lend her support on the sensitisation campaign on the eradication of the disease. The beauty queen described the guinea worm as a national disaster because it had implication on agriculture, education and the socio-economic activities of the people whose long-term consequences could ground the national economy. She said it was unfortunate that Ghana had the highest number of reported cases of the guinea worm disease and people needed not to close their eyes to it, adding: "we need to be serious about it and change our behaviours and habits".

Miss Mbillah commended Guinea Worm Volunteers for their good work and urged them to intensify their campaign especially in the rural communities.

Dr George Amofa, Director of Public Health Division of the Ministry of Health, called for the support of the local communities in the eradication efforts.

He took the people through the manifestation process of the guinea worm and appealed to them to practice safe methods taught them by health promoters as their contribution towards the eradication of the disease. The Public Health Director, called on traditional rulers and the media to support the eradication efforts by helping to sensitise the people in the communities.

Mr Dramani Issaku, 30, who had been down for three months with the disease, said he could not sow his maize and groundnuts on a six acres land he had ploughed.

Miss Muniratu Imoro, 19, who had 12 points of the guinea worm on her body including her stomach said she could not pick sheanuts this year due to the infection she had.

Dr Andrew Seidu Korkor, National Programme Manager of the Guinea Worm Eradication Programme, noted that the guinea worm could be eradicated without the provision of potable water if only the people change their habits and cultural beliefs and put into practice safe methods of handling drinking water.

Mr Wahab Suhyini Wumbei, the District Chief Executive of Tolon/Kumbungu, announced that the Assembly collaborated with its development partners such as UNICEF, World Vision International and the government to provide boreholes for guinea worm endemic communities last year but lamented that only a few of them were turning out water. He said it was becoming increasingly difficult to provide water because of the hydrogeology of the area and called for alternative ways of providing water for the people in the District.

The DCE urged the chiefs and opinion leaders to ensure that measures were taken to compel the people to adhere to safe practices and sanctions put on those found to be recalcitrant.

Mr Mahama Abdulai, Regent of Gbrumani, said he and his people had put measures in place to ensure the rapid eradication of the disease. Miss Mbillah addressed similar durbars at Tampion and Zoggu in the Savelegu/Nanton District to round off her one-week campaign tour of guinea worm endemic communities in the Tolon/Kumbungu and Savelugu/Nanton districts. 21 Sept. 05

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