Statistics say about 42% of health facilities in sub-Saharan Africa do not have running water, contributing to poor hygiene and infections, which in turn leads to a high rate of maternal and neonatal deaths.
The Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, Andrew Barnes who shared the information said inadequate access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services, particularly in health care facilities is a major challenge, not only in Ghana but globally.
Mr. Barnes was speaking at the inauguration of WASH facilities at two health reception centres at Sombo and Dobile now known as Duori in the Wa Municipality in the Upper West Region.
The Dobile (Duori) Health Centre has been provided with a seven-seater bio digester toilet with the Sombo CHPS compound having four-seater bio digester place of convenience.
The facilities valued at 80 thousand Australian Dollars were constructed by WaterAid with funding from the Australian High Commission in Ghanas Direct Aid Program grants.
According to Mr. Barnes, Here in Ghana, the Ministry of Health estimates that inadequate access to WASH Services contributes to around 15% of maternal deaths in Ghana. Thats a huge number, and a number that we can change, he observed.
The High Commissioner indicated that improving access to WASH is something that he is personally passionate about.
He praised WaterAid for its significant efforts at providing communities across Ghana access to water, sanitation and hygiene”, adding that through WaterAids work, it is helping to promote the health, dignity and economic potential of the communities it is reaching out to.
Mr. Barnes was also grateful to the people Sombo and Dobile (Duori) for their support for the project.
In an address read for the Upper West Regional Minister, Dr. Hafiz Bin Salih, he reiterated that faecal matter is responsible for more than 50% of the nine million preventable child deaths each year across the world.
He therefore stressed the need for us to invest more in sanitation, saying that will ultimately lead to fewer deaths across the world and more importantly in the Upper West Region.
Dr. Bin Salih thanked the Australian government for supporting WaterAid to implement the program in the area of sanitation and water in the region and hoped WASH activities will be intensified with all key stakeholders for the Wa Municipality to move up on the sanitation ladder.
The Country Director of WaterAid, Abdul-Nashiru Mohammed stressed that: ”We wanted to make a difference in the lives of the people in the two communities [Sombo and Dobilie (Duori)] and indeed these facilities are meant to provide quality care to people who visit them…In addition, we believe that human rights is one way that we can extend services to everybody, so human rights are quite critical in the communities we work, even in the neighbouring communities where services are limited.”
Mr. Mohammed opined that Ghana and many other countries have made a commitment to ensuring that health for all is possible, so that water, sanitation and hygiene for everyone, everywhere is also possible.
He continued that: “through this particular collaboration with the Australian High Commission, we believe that we will continue to support communities, work with the Municipal Assembly and the Health Directorate to make sure that services are extended to pregnant women, new mothers, infants and all care care-givers”.
The World Health Organization, (WHO) has made a commitment which our government has also sign a bond to ensure that there is universal health coverage, which means that we want to make sure that irrespective of where of where you live, your economic status that you will have access to quality care.
“What you see today is one step in that direction to make sure that the people of Sombo and Dobile (Duori) have access to quality healthcare,” Mr. Mohammed averred.
The Australian High Commission believes that access to water, sanitation and hygiene is one of the critical drivers for quality healthcare and for universal health coverage is the main reason why we have partnered to provide this particular facility.
The Head of Programs-WaterAid Ghana, Jesse Coffie Danku thanked the Australian High Commission for partnering WAG to bring what described as real and significant investment to save lives.
Touching on how to uphold sanitation value-chain, Mr. Danku said the facilities have a bio-digester at the back instead of the usual septic tank which has its concomitant problem of dislodgement and the question of the final destination of what has been dislodged.
He indicated that, to settle the question of where is the final destination, after flushing a toilet? a decision was made to use a digester because of the advantages associated with it use.
The Regional Director of Health Services, Osei Kuffuor Afreh stated that WASH is about 80% of the health issues we have in Upper West Region and pointed out that there are many service points that need improved places of convenience.
He was grateful to the Australian government in partnership with WaterAid and Pronet North for the modernized and expanded toilet facilities.
The MCE for Wa, Tahiru Issahaku Moomin said last year the government of Ghana announced its commitment to the vision of universal health coverage, health for all by 2030.
The universal health coverage for all is based on the belief that everyone should have access to people-centred care that is appropriate, quality and comprehensive in nature.
The MCE emphasized that accessing quality healthcare if and when necessary should not create impoverishment.
Mr. Moomin was also very thankful to the benefactors for their invaluable assistance towards healthcare delivery in the Wa Municipality.
A Community Health Nurse at the Dobile (Duori) Health Centre, Ophelia Dapaah and the Midwife in charge of the Sombo Community based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) compound Mrs. Regina Dong were very appreciative of the support of the project partners.
Before the intervention, Dobile (Duori) and Sombo facilities did not have adequate water and sanitation facilities and relied on Veronica Buckets for hand washing.
Story by Emmanuel Mensah-Abludo