From January 2012 to September 2012 alone, 50 Ghanaians have died from cholera, while 5,800 cases have been reported at the country’s hospitals and health centres.
These figures from the Ghana Health Service (GHS) were relayed by Hon. Enoch T. Mensah, Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, when he delivered a statement Monday, October 15, 2012 in Accra, at a national durbar to mark five years of Global Handwashing Day celebration.
Speaking at the durbar organised by the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) under the theme; “5 Years of Global Handwashing Day Celebration: Going Beyond the Fifth Birthday of Children”, Hon. E. T. Mensah described the situation as heart-rending.
“This is sad, because these are people who should not have been ill at all in the first place. Cholera can easily be avoided by keeping our environment clean and by simply washing our hands with soap after using the toilet before handling food – That is before cooking or selling or eating food,” he stated.
The Minister, who is also the Member of Parliament for Ningo-Prampram, expressed dismay that while it is simple and handwashing with soap as a habit is critical to avoid the scourge of diseases, “it is common to find people using their hands unhygienically, who will go ahead to use soap after they have eaten.”
“When you go to the chop bars, you see people – as soon as they are served there is some water there, they put their hands in and then they jump on to eating – this is something which is unacceptable and we’ve got to do something about it,” he charged.
According to the MP, the situation as it stands now in the country, goes to demonstrate that while the adoption of specific hygiene behaviour has proved useful in controlling outbreak of infectious diseases, it is also true that the adoption of such behaviour can be difficult.
“For lack of knowledge, many people will continue to ignore the role that hygiene plays in reducing the incidence of diseases and this has to be stopped,” he demanded, stressing, “Handwashing with soap should become one of the cherished hygienic practices in Ghana.”