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25.05.2006 Disaster

Declare Wa East District disaster zone


Wa, May 25, GNA - Dr Daniel Yayemain, Senior Medical Officer (Public Health) in the Upper West Region, on Wednesday appealed to the National Disaster Management Organization to declare Wa East District a disaster zone in view of the continued high prevalence of guinea worm cases in the district.

This would enable the district to attract more resources to fight the disease.

He said out of 48 cases of the disease recorded in the region in the first three months of this year, 39 of them came from the district and this has been the trend over the years. Dr Yayemain said this at Wa during a stakeholders' forum on guinea worm eradication organized by the Ghana Health Service with the support of the Carter Centre.

It was held for Municipal and District Chief executives, Presiding members and Coordinating directors of district assemblies and representatives of agencies and non-governmental organizations in the water and sanitation sector.

They deliberated on strategies to use to eradicate the disease completely by 2008.

He said the movement of farmers to and from endemic communities was posing a big challenge to efforts geared towards eradicating the disease and appealed to commercial drivers to support by reporting cases among travellers.

Mr Ambrose Dery, the Upper West Regional Minister, said health issues were now community issues and the best form of intervention in the health sector could only succeed where the community was part and parcel of the intervention. He urged district assemblies, chiefs, opinion leaders and all stakeholders to embark on an intensive crusade for attitudinal change in endemic communities.

The Ducie community, he said, had not accepted and utilized the interventions there and as a result, it still remained one of the most endemic communities.

Nafisatu Abdulai, a nursing mother from Ducie in the Wa East District, gave an account of how the disease interrupted her family's productive activities and made paupers of her and her husband for a year when they both went down with the disease after drinking water from a pond in the village.

She said 25 worms dangled from all parts of her body and because of that she was despised and stigmatised by her neighbours and even after recovery she still felt pains on one of her affected legs. Mr Phil Downs, Resident Technical Adviser of the Carter Centre, said out of the 20 countries that had the disease in 1986, only Sudan, Ghana and Mali were still reporting cases.