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 Water crisis in N/R deepens

Water crisis in N/R deepensTHE worsening water crisis in Tamale, and other parts of the Northern Region, has forced the majority of the people to depend largely on unsafe water sources.

The situation is now causing panic among some of the residents, who apparently fear contracting the guinea worm disease, since these water sources, mainly dams and streams were declared infected by the worms.

Unfortunately, most of the dams and creeks are also serving as sources of drinking water for cattle, sheep, goats and dogs, and other livestock.

The guinea worm prevalence rate has reduced drastically from the 1996 figure of over 89,000 to about 8, as at May 2010 in the whole country, due to the vigorous war waged against the disease by the National Guinea Worm Eradication Programme of the Ghana Health Service.

When the number of reported cases in the country was around 501 in 2008, the Northern Region alone, recorded 479, representing 96%. When it was 242 at the national, the region recorded 237, and in 2010, all the 8 reported cases of guinea worm were found in the Northern Region, with the Central Gonja, Savelugu-Nanton, and Tolon-Kumbungu districts leading the chart in that order.

The Tamale Metropolis was seen as the only Metropolitan city in the world with Guinea Worm cases. This, according to experts at the Ghana Health Service, was as a result of the lack of potable drinking water.

The problem was rectified in a way, after the completion of the Tamale Water Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme in 2008, by Messrs Biwater, an international company. However, the Ghana

Water Company Limited (GWCL) has within the last few months, been unable to supply adequate water to the residents of Tamale and its surrounding communities, as a result of a technical fault.

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Aqua Vittens Rand Limited, Nicholas Nii Abbey, has however, assured the public of the company's commitment to addressing the problem.

But, between now and the time the problem would be rectified, the residents would have no option, than to find ways of surviving.

But, the majority of the people, including schools, health centres, institutions, restaurants and individuals, are now relying on private water tanker services, which are believed to be very expensive.

While others are relying on sachet water, some are also trekking down to the so-called guinea worm contaminated dams to fetch water for their households.

The Programme Manager of the National Guinea Worm Eradication Programme (GWEP), Dr. Seidu Korkor, has, meanwhile, disabused the minds of residents in Tamale and other parts of Northern Region, who are now apprehensive of contracting the guinea worm disease, as a result of their dependency on unsafe water sources.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Chronicle in his office in Tamale, Dr. Korkor said that Ghana, as a nation, had broken the guinea worm transmission since June 2010, and was very sure there was no cause for alarm.

He explained that all the dams and streams identified to be guinea worm infested, were disinfested, and communities around those dams provided with water filters, and as well sensitised on how to treat their water before use.

According to Dr. Seidu Korkor, at the moment, there was not a single case of guinea worm in the Northern Region, and Ghana at large, and it was therefore, difficult for anybody to infect the water sources.

This, he said, was because it takes an infected person to contaminate water sources, before the disease can spread, but at the moment, 'we don't have a single case of guinea worm in the system. For the past 10 months, Ghana has not reported any case, and this thus gives us the indication that we have broken transmission in guinea worm.'

Dr. Seidu Korkor maintained that there was no way any of the refugees from Cote d'Ivoire, Togo or Burkina Faso, could transport guinea worm into Ghana, since none of those countries has guinea worm cases.

He noted that the eight guinea worm patients who reported in 2010 were all admitted and treated,  and that there was no way they could spread the disease.

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