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11.10.2005 Health

Six top diseases knock Obuasi cold

By GNA
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Accra, Oct. 11, GNA - A survey carried out in the Adansi West District (Obuasi) and its environs has revealed increasing trend of malaria, acute respiratory infection, skin disease, diarrhoea, acute eye infection and schistosomiasis cases due to the mining activities. The study carried out by three lecturers of the Geology Department of the University of Ghana, Legon under the auspices of the Third World Network, Africa, indicated that malaria exhibits the highest incidence resulting in an annual increase of outpatient cases from 20 per cent to 59 per cent.

A copy of the research paper made available to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on Tuesday from Mr Thomas M. Akaabza, who led the team, said the communities blamed the high incidence of the malaria on pits of stagnant water created by the AngloGold Ashanti Company's mining and related activities.

The report said the pits served as breeding grounds for the mosquitoes and mentioned 208 out of 228 respondents representing 91.2 per cent, who emphasized that mining activities of AngloGold Ashanti were responsible for the high incidence of malaria in the area. It said the community and members of the District Health Management team, however, said the AGC and the Obuasi Municipal Assembly adopted belated efforts to help to address the malaria problem.

The Report, however, said according to the District Health Authorities the company had committed 329,000 dollars to support the malaria eradication programme in the District.

The graphical display of the annual OPD reported cases of the chosen diseases showed that on the whole, the prevalence of these diseases showed increasing trend from 1989 to date.

Most of the diseases recorded annual peak values from 1997 to 2001; a period when surface mining was at its peak.

In many cases there was no significant variation in the numbers reported for the various diseases from 1989 to 1993, period during which surface mining development was underway; while the period from 2002 to 2003 saw a drop in the number of patients reporting these diseases annually. This was the period following the closure of surface mining activities.

Trends in distribution in the various communities showed that Anyinam, Kwabrafoso, Dokyiwaa, Ntonsua and Sansu showed the highest occurrence of the diseases with Anyinam and Kwabrafoso giving the highest annul values.

But the report said these trends could not be considered conclusive since the number of reporting cases would be directly related to total populations of the communities. It said at Ntonsua and Ewiase the prevalent disease is Acute Respiratory Infections that showed a steady increase from 1997 to 2001, and peaked between 1997 and 2001.

According to community members AngloGold Ashanti frequently flushed its pipelines carrying various sewerage and cyanide laced water from its mining activities to keep them clean or remove silted material and to prevent blockade of these pipelines. The effluent is discharged into the Fena stream at Ewiase on which the communities depended on for water. The community leaders produced several documents of correspondence with AngloGold Ashanti in which they had complained to the Company about the pollution of their only source of water, it said.

The communities, the Report said also experienced the effects of cyanide leakages and spillages from another cyanide pond near Attakrom, Kwabena Badukrom and Kronto, all upstream of Ntonsua. According to community sources the people of Attakrom, Kwabena Badukrom and Kronto migrated to join Ntonsua and Ewiase because the effect of the cyanide spillage was intense upstream and the communities considered their lives to be in danger. The affected communities asked for compensation from the Company but were denied and the case was still in court. The report said Jimiso community consistently recorded the highest prevalence of malaria and schistosomiasis relative to the rest of the communities.

The Jimi River it said had been dammed at Jimi to provide a large reservoir of water for the Company's ore processing facilities. According to members of the Jimiso community during rainstorms, the dam over flooded the area producing pools of stagnant water that provided breeding grounds for mosquitoes and consequently the incidence of malaria schistosomiasis.

"Thus there is strong perception in this community that the dam and the activities of mining companies are responsible for the high incidence of these two diseases in the area." 11 Oct. 05

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