Cholera Epidemic In 21st Century Ghana?

The refuse dump closer to the houseAt the last count, over 55 fellow Ghanaians have succumbed to the ongoing outbreak of cholera in Accra, the national capital and the supposed gateway into the West African sub-region. And there appears to be no end to the toll.

So widespread is the diahorrea disease that the five or so polyclinics in the metropolis have been overwhelmed with the influx of patients to the extent that victims sleep on the floor. Together with the Central Region, which is also afflicted with the disease, about 5,000 people have been taken ill. Multiple cases crop up daily.

Given the degree of filth that often engulfs our homes, even at highbrow residential neighbourhoods, it is surprising that cholera outbreaks are periodic and not perennial. What is appalling and humiliating though is the planlessness and impotence demonstrated by officialdom in tackling this current cholera incidence, which commentators have described as “the last minute attitude”.

“The way we do our things, where we wait till the last minute, even if you were not prepared, you knew it was a cyclical thing and you would have thought that people will have had the mind to plan ahead,” an official of the policy think-tank IMANI said exasperatedly.

In the light of government’s abysmal performance over cholera ravaging Accra, IMANI is right in questioning government’s preparedness to fight a possible Ebola outbreak in the country.  “Government’s inability to effectively handle the outbreak of cholera should be a source of worry to Ghanaians since the Ebola disease is deadlier.You can’t even deal with cholera and you are hoping to deal with Ebola. It is a systemic issue”, IMANI added.

The Chronicle would like to know what herculean effort it takes to fight cholera that a lower Middle Income and oil producing country like Ghana cannot surmount?  According to the experts all that one needed are Oral rehydration Solution and zinc tablets; this is said to be effective even in children whose cells, tissues and organs are more delicate than the coarse ones in adults.

Why can we not flood the households in the slum areas where because of the filth and acute insanitary conditions are the breeding grounds for cholera. How much would such cost? Oh, we do not have the funds? Have we not as yet finished filling the cash hole left by the reckless spending of GH¢8.7 billion outside of the 2012 budget?

Of course, the birds are still coming home to roost for those three months of financial anomie about two years ago.  The Chronicle hopes that our politicians, of whatever hue or colour and across all divides have, imbibed the necessary lessons: Flippant use of unbudgeted state resources has dire implications for the citizenry of any country as it stalls all development and puts them in harm’s way.

That is the ultimate effect of the current inability to meet our statutory payments – GetFund, National Health Insurance, Capitation Grant, District Assembly Common Fund, Subvention to educational institutions, School Feeding etc. – to name but a few.

A word to the Wise…!

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