The Cholera Epidemic: Ama Could Have Done Better!

The headlines are regular and morbid: Cholera kills 4, Cholera spreads in the capital city and Hospital turns away cholera patients because it is full.

Health facilities, particularly in the capital city, Accra, are reeling under immense pressure to cope with the ever-increasing cases of cholera being recorded almost every hour.

The continuous increase in cases and the attendant deaths are confounding, and the Times is alarmed that a highly rated facility like the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital could announce publicly, that it can no longer cope with the cholera cases  being reported there.

The health authorities have disclosed that more than 45 innocent lives have been lost so far, and over 3,000 people affected by the epidemic. Hospitals in the capital, particularly the major ones, Korle-Bu and La General Hospital, are overwhelmed and as a result, have begun turning away patients who actually need critical healthcare.

Poor sanitation has been cited as a major cause of the outbreak, which began in June. But what has been the response of officialdom, especially the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), to the threat? The response has simply been lethargic!

There is no gainsaying the fact that the AMA has been very slow in responding to the outbreak, which has almost become a pandemic.

The city is still engulfed in filth, even after Vice-President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur’s directive to the AMA to have it cleared.

 We can also not gloss over the uncontrolled discharge of sewage and faecal sludge into open drains and water courses in the metropolis, which some horticulturists use to cultivate vegetables, and which end up on tables in households.

Added to this is the fact that over 5,200 households in Accra alone either use the banned pan latrines or do not have toilet facilities at all. Is the AMA therefore,  pretentiously telling Ghanaians, it was not aware of the calamity looming over the city?

Then on Tuesday, the Accra Metropolitan  Chief Executive, Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, inaugurated the Sanitation Standard Implementation Committees to sensitise residents to the cholera pandemic, an action  The Ghanaian Times believes is too late, because these committees should have served as  preventive mechanisms, and not  curative.

We insist that the AMA boss has several options, including using the numerous radio stations, which can target precise audience(s). He could appeal to them to air messages about cholera freely to the people, as part of their corporate social responsibilities to the capital.

The churches, mosques, shrines, opinion and traditional leaders could also help.

We sincerely believe that the 77-member task force put in place by the AMA, is simply another avenue to milk the tax payer who would be required to pay for their services. Indeed, the people of the city deserve better.

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