Scientist blames Typhoid, Hepatitis on poor human waste management in Ghana

Scientist blames Typhoid, Hepatitis on poor human waste management in Ghana

An Environmental Health and Sanitation expert is blaming the high rate of Typhoid and Hepatitis in the country, on poor management of toilets and human waste.

Professor Esi Awuah, who is the Foundation Vice- Chancellor of the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), Sunyani, says the incidence is as a result of rise in open defecation and poor management of toilets.

 “It’s amazing how salmonella and hepatitis are killing us, as a nation, and it’s all coming from faeces,” she lamented.

The situation is even worse in low income communities which are often characterised by inadequate toilet facilities.

 It is estimated that close to 60 percent of Ghanaians share toilet facilities.

“In Ghana, only 15 percent of the population use private or improved toilet facilities while more than 5 million Ghanaians defecate in the open”, says sanitation consultant, Dr. Prince Antwi-Agyei.

Prof. (Mrs) Awuah believes the situation calls for interventionsthat will minimize human-to- waste contact.

Professor Esi Awuah

To increase access to improved sanitation, the Government of Ghana has developed a water sector strategic development plan to guide planning, development and management for effective delivery of sustainable water and sanitation services.

The overall goal expected to be achieved by 2025 is to improve living standards of all Ghanaians through increased and safe access to sustainable water and basic sanitation.

To support the government achieve its sanitation goal and to reduce the spate of open defecation in the country, the Regional Water and Environmental Sanitation Centre, Kumasi, (RWESCK) in the Department of Civil Engineering, KNUST, is partnering with the Great Lakes University of Kisumu, Kenya on a research study titled “Management of shared sanitation facilities in low income areas in Ghana and Kenya”.

‘’In Kenya, just like in Ghana, we equally have a huge number of households sharing sanitation facilities at the household level, compound level and community level” emphasized Dr Sheillah Simiyu, the Principal Investigatorof the study fromthe Great Lakes University of Kisumu.

The study aims at developing strategies for proper management of high quality shared sanitation facilities in low income settlements. It will be on facilities in low-income settlements in both Ghana and Kenya.

At a workshop in Kumasi, and a similar workshop in Kisumu, Kenya, stakeholders in the sanitation and waste management sector discussed strategies to achieve the objectives of the study.

Currently, the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) which monitors progress made by countries on the sustainable development goals (SDGs), classifies shared sanitation as a limited form of improved sanitation.

Although this is an improvement over previous definitions, researchers on the study would like to make a case for redefining high quality shared sanitation facilities as improved and not limited, says Dr Prince Antwi-Agyei, a co-investigator on the study. Other co-investigatorsof the study include Dr Kwaku Amaning Adjei (KNUST), and Dr.Raphael Kweyu (Kenyatta University, Kenya).

The outcome of the study will lead to improved understanding and capacity to formulate strategies and policies on management of high quality shared toilets, and increased investments in high quality shared toilets in both Ghana and Kenya.

This collaborative research study will span over two years and it is part of the Leading Integrated Research for Agenda 2030 in Africa(LIRA 2030 Africa)programme. The programme is funded by the International Science Counciland the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC).

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